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Developer Education – Don’t Underestimate Your Own Expertise with Megan Sullivan

Relicans host Aisha Blake talks to Developer Educator at Apollo, Megan Sullivan, about her roundabout journey into tech, the difference between developer advocacy versus education versus experience, and how it is v. important to not underestimate your own expertise!

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Jonan Scheffler: Hello and welcome to Launchies, proudly brought to you by New Relic's Developer Relations team, The Relicans. The Launchies podcast is about supporting new developers and telling their stories, and helping you make the next step in what we certainly hope is a very long and healthy career in software. You can find the show notes for this episode along with all of The Relicans podcasts on developer.newrelic.com/podcasts. We're so glad you're here. Enjoy the show.

Aisha Blake: Hello and welcome to Launchies. This is the podcast for devs early on in their career and with non-traditional backgrounds. My name is Aisha Blake. I am Lead Developer Relations Engineer at New Relic, and I'll be your host.

Today I'm here with my friend Megan Sullivan. I'm really excited. We have a lot of very funny overlaps in our career, in our journeys, our tech journeys. And so, I always want to learn more about where she's been and where she's going. So thank you so much for joining me.

Megan Sullivan: Yeah, of course. Thank you for having me. It is always fun to hang out and chat.

Aisha: Absolutely. So I really, really respect you as an educator and as a writer, and a whole lot of other things. And I would love to start off by hearing more about your story and how you got here.

Megan: So I had a roundabout journey into tech. I started as a CS major in college kind of by accident because, for some reason, I thought I really liked theater in high school. And I was like, okay, programming a light board maybe that's like programming a computer and kind of, but kind of not.

But then I was in the CS program, and they told me…I had some friends from high school who were like, "I don't think that you can do that. You don't know anything about computers."

Aisha: Rude.

Megan: And one of my rooms for improvements is that I am a bit petty. And so I was just like, okay, cool. Now I must show you that I can do it. Like, I'm good enough. So I stuck with a CS degree. But I never really saw myself being a programmer. This was also right around the time that that movie The Social Network came out that's about how Facebook got started. That's a very specific image of what programming is like. And I was like, this is not the business. This is not what I see myself doing.

But around the same time, like a couple of years later, I was a TA for the entry-level CS program. And so I really loved that experience of taking somebody, helping them get from a place where they were really overwhelmed and didn't know what they were doing if they were new to programming, and helping them get to a place where they felt confident in their abilities to use computers to make cool stuff.

And so, after college, I went into education. I did an AmeriCorps program for a year where I was working with third graders, and kindergarteners, and first graders, which was a lot of fun. And then, after that, I worked at a couple of CS education non-profits doing curriculum writing. So I was on the education team at Code.org for a little while as an intern.

And then, I worked at Girls Who Code which focuses on teaching middle school and high school girls how to program. And one of the things that we had in our Girls Who Code curriculum was all of these women in tech spotlights where we would highlight a woman in the tech industry and show here is how she's using computer science to have an impact on her community.

And so some of them worked at tech companies, but some of them were like, hey, here's a group of students who built an app to help people report graffiti in their neighborhood. Or here's somebody who's developing a machine learning algorithm for how to detect cancer in DNA strands or something. So trying to show all of the different ways that you can use computer science that aren't just like, go and work at Facebook or Microsoft. Not that that's not wonderful, that's also great, but just trying to show that there's a greater breadth in what you can do.

And so, in the process of writing all of these, I felt like, oh, I want to be one of those people. I want to make a difference. And so, I felt like I needed to deepen my technical skill because, at that point, I had a CS degree, but that's not so practical. And so I got an entry-level job working at a company called Thoughtworks, and they do software consulting.

So I figured this would be a good way to try out a bunch of different kinds of technologies to see what I like and learn a bunch of stuff. They did a lot of pairing there, which I thought was really great. And so it was a good way to level up very quickly and see this is what people using software in the industry...this is what that experience looks like. So I did that for a few years.

And then after that, I was missing the education piece of designing learning experiences and thinking about how do you help people level up and learn new skills? And so around that same time, I saw Aisha had posted a Twitter post saying, "Hey..." this was back when you were at Gatsby, and you were on the documentation team. And it was like, "Oh, we're going to be hiring a new documentation engineer."

And I was like, oh, that's perfect because that's the technical skills that I've been developing over the last couple of years, but it's also focused on education and teaching new users how to do something. So it felt like a really nice blend of the tech skills and the education skills. So yeah, that's where I'm at now. I've been here for just over a year. I worked on reorganizing the docs. I worked on rewriting the tutorial. And yeah, that's sort of the SparkNotes version of how I got to where I am.

Aisha: Thank you. And thank you for accepting that position. I think you have done --

Megan: Thank you for hiring me.

[laughter]

Aisha: I felt a lot of conflicting feelings about leaving that team largely because you were so great.

Megan: As were you. We had a wonderful time together. It was brief but memorable. [laughs]

Aisha: Yes, exactly. I definitely half-joked and maybe more than half serious that you're just a better version of me.

Megan: No. No, no. [laughs]

Aisha: At least in that role. And so it's been really wonderful to see you actually having an impact for the Gatsby community and building out these really thoughtful, inclusive education experiences.

Megan: That means a lot coming from you. Thanks. [chuckles]

Aisha: I'm just so excited to see where you take it. I'm excited for us to be friends and learn from each other for years.

Megan: It's great.

Aisha: I highly recommend just reaching out to people that share those sorts of professional interests with you and then seeing where that takes you. Since those few glorious weeks that we worked together, I've moved into developer relations firmly. And that's how I describe myself is; my job now is to be a friendly internet person. [laughs]

Megan: There you go. But that's huge. And I feel like as somebody who's learning stuff, it helps to have those people where it's like, oh, I don't know...like right now, I'm learning about Obsidian. I've heard people talking about it forever, not forever but recently. And so I just tweeted something like, "Hey, I want to learn this thing. What resources do you have, internet people?" And people showed up and were like, "Oh, look at this thread." I've got a bunch of really cool resources now.

But it's just like, I don't know, that's something that I really think is cool about tech Twitter when it's done right is that it's a good little place to celebrate like, we're learning new stuff, and isn't it cool? And here's this cool thing that I found. And what are you learning? And I really like that sort of environment.

Aisha: Absolutely. My bookmarks are just monstrous.

Megan: Yep. Yep.

[laughter]

Aisha: Because somebody will ask a really great question, and then I'm like, ooh, let me bookmark that question because I know that 17 people are going to show up with 17 different awesome resources that I am totally going to read at some point.

Megan: Yeah, totally. That's why I always have a million tabs open because everybody is just sharing cool stuff. [laughs]

Aisha: So many tabs. [laughs] So you have had this pretty rich career up to this point. There's a logical path when you think about the jumps that you've made, but it is kind of meandering.

Megan: Yeah, it's a hard elevator pitch.

[laughter]

Aisha: And it seems like you have really picked up some valuable things in each type of role that you've had. And so, where do you see that taking you in the future?

Megan: So this is a fun, little segue that'll be public by the time that this goes out, but it's not at the moment. I'm actually leaving Gatsby. I'm going to be joining the education team at Apollo. And so they have a really cool learning platform called Odyssey, which, when they announced it, I was watching the live stream and watching them talk about all the features. And I was just like, this is so cool.

It's like a learning platform for all of their different Apollo products. The way that it teaches it to you is like everything that the teacher in me dreams that a learning platform could be. They have videos to go along and explain the text. They have diagrams. They have embedded assessment activities, so checks for understanding to see if you understood this concept.

They have some that are like multiple choice, but they also have some that are like CodePens where it'll be like, do this little exercise and then run it. And it'll check your code snippet against a set of tests and tell you what things you got wrong. I feel like I'm getting sidetracked because I love it so much. It's so cool.

Aisha: No, I think that's a perfect segue into what you're excited about in terms of that developer education work.

Megan: So what I'll be doing is I'm going to be a developer educator. So I'll be on the team that's helping build out these courses. And I feel like that's the thing that I really love and excel at is learning a new thing. And then, as I'm absorbing it, figuring out what are all the pieces that you need to be able to understand the system? How do they fit together? And then helping orchestrate that in a way so that you can explain it to somebody else.

And basically, the way I like to think about it is I will do all the hard thinking once so that hopefully other people won't have to think as hard as I did when I was trying to learn it. [laughs] Which maybe, I don't know, that makes it sound too pompous. But I think helping guide the way for other people coming afterwards is something that I really like doing.

Aisha: Yeah, you're making the process of learning something that is going to improve someone's career or just ability to create easier.

Megan: Yeah, totally because that's ultimately the end goal. It's not that you build the best tutorial demo site or whatever. It's like, how do I focus on the transferable skills that you're going to need to know after this tutorial when you go off, and you're building your own site? How do we make sure that those things are conveyed? And how do we actually check at the end of each lesson that you actually achieved those learning goals? And if you didn't, help direct you back to where the information that you missed is.

Aisha: Absolutely. And I think I actually did grok through the first part, at least, of Odyssey, and it was --

Megan: It's so lovely.

Aisha: It was really great. Just that multimedia aspect of it keeps your attention because you're moving between different formats of information. And you're guided along by members of the team. So you're getting not only the audio but the visual, and you're practicing as you go along.

Megan: Yeah, totally.

Aisha: And you're really in the process of that learning, getting a look at how everything fits together like you said.

Megan: Yeah. Well, and especially something like Apollo, where they've got a bunch of different…They've got a bunch of different packages depending on whether you're working on the server-side or whether you're working on the front end. So I think that they do a really good job of showing the connection between those boundaries and explaining why. Why do we care about GraphQL? Why do we care about how the system is set up?

And I feel like knowing why a thing is important makes it a lot easier to remember and also to apply it in the future. Because then it helps you figure out like, okay, cool, I have these tools in my tool belt, but how do I know when I need a screw versus when I need a hammer?

Aisha: Absolutely. What suggestions would you have for somebody who's interested in getting into developer education?

Megan: I think that you can just kind of do it. The beautiful thing about the internet is that Dev.to exists. You can roll your own WordPress blog or even something with Gatsby or Next. You can roll your own website relatively easily. And so you can just write stuff and then put it out there.

I think that Twitter has been huge for me, even in the last year or two. I feel like I wasn't really…I was like a lurker on Twitter for a while. But I feel like I've just recently started doing more engaging with actual people and asking questions and posting resources that I find that I think are cool. And so as you build a following that way, like if you're putting out content of just like, hey, here's the thing that I learned, even if you're not an expert at it just saying, "I learned this thing," and maybe it will help someone else.

Oftentimes when I'm trying to debug, and I'm Googling an error message, you'll end up on somebody's blog who's like, I found this problem once, and this is how I fixed it. And it's like, that's great. That helped me, and if they hadn't written that, then I would still be stuck. [laughs]

So I think don't underestimate your own expertise. Everybody has something that they know how to do that somebody else doesn't know how to do. So you can just write that and put it out into the world. And then people will see it and be like, oh, you're a person who writes stuff. Isn't that neat? [laughs]

Aisha: Definitely. I suppose that begs the question, where do you maybe draw the line between developer education and maybe some of the other subcategories of work that might get lumped under either developer relations or developer experience?

Megan: Yeah, that's a really good question. I don't know. I don't know that I have a great answer. I feel like so much of it depends on company to company where those boundaries are drawn. Because I know that at Apollo, they have the developer experience umbrella, and under that, developer education is one team. And developer advocacy maybe is another team. But the way that that split is defined is going to be different based on what company that you work at. What do you think?

Aisha: So there are a handful of different…I'm thinking about this a lot right now as we try to get clear on specifically what it means to be an associate developer relations engineer versus a senior or a principal. So really defining those levels in a more explicit way so that people have a progression path. And it's going to depend on the company regardless of what delineation you think is correct. [laughs] Whatever company you're working for is probably going to determine what it actually is.

But yeah, I think of developer education as pretty literally focusing on more coursework. Usually, something longer form versus an extemporaneous read-along or code-along that I might do as a developer relations engineer. If I'm working in developer education, I wouldn't necessarily expect to do a lot of work on events, that sort of thing.

Megan: That makes sense.

Aisha: So that's my loose interpretation. I'm thinking about what kind of expectations are reasonable at those different levels. And that definitely comes into it as well; the difference between what is developer advocacy versus education versus experience?

Developer experience, in my mind, is really much closer to the product than those other departments’ teams. I'm thinking about specifically, probably what you would more traditionally call developer advocacy. What are the levels there? And there are a handful of folks who have done some writing on that, Mary Thengvall as well as Sarah Drasner and a couple of others.

Megan: I saw that Kurt Kemple, I think, also put something out on the Apollo blog relatively recently that was talking about…actually, he's done a couple of different things that talk about how they approach developer experience. They do audits to see where are the friction points.

I don't want to talk about it too much because he knows it better. And I don't work there yet. [laughter] But yeah, go check those out. He's got a bunch of good Twitter threads, too, that are about this. Actually, what you were talking about with the leveling made me think of that.

He's got an article where he talks about this pyramid of the kinds of challenges that are involved when you're working on a team, and some of them are at a really high level. And those are your architecture decisions. And that's the kind of thing that maybe you need a staff or a senior person staff or principal person to be in charge of a tech lead kind of level. And then your senior people are working with a different set of problems. And then you maybe need more of those but not…what is it? It's like a pyramid.

So you've got like one staff person at the top. You've got more senior people in the middle. And then you've got a bunch of more junior-level people to work on sort of like…I don't want to call it grunt work, but the more in the weeds kinds of problems where you can dig into one problem specifically.

Aisha: I saw that he had written something about it, but I have not yet read Kurt's take, so I'll have to pull him on to a different show. [laughs]

Megan: Yeah, definitely. Because it was really interesting because I think that a problem that some companies have is that you go hire too many senior people. And so then it's like…you should just talk to him about it.

Aisha: [laughs]

Megan: Because he talks about how if the balance of junior to senior staff people is not right, then you have different kinds of friction on your team because there's not the right kind of work for the level that you're at. So people will either think that it's too hard if they're too junior for it. Or if they're too senior for it, they'll be like, "This is too easy, and they won't want to do it." So yeah, lots of challenges. I feel like that applies to any kind of team, too, and not just DevRel.

Aisha: Yeah, absolutely. Have you seen those kinds of issues come up in teams of your own?

Megan: Yeah, a little bit. I think I think that if you have --

Aisha: There's something to be said for teams that are just you.

Megan: That's true. That's true.

[laughter]

Aisha: Sorry about that. [laughs]

Megan: For context, for a little while at Gatsby, I was just on a team of one, which honestly, it was kind of nice because then you're just like, I'm going to work on this thing. Who's going to approve it? Me. [laughs] I'm going to do this other stuff. It's very freeing. You could do whatever you want.

But yeah, I've been on teams where there are too many senior people. And so then it's a little bit like too many cooks in the kitchen where everybody's got opinions on how things should do. And if they don't agree with each other, then you're like, cool, but what are we going to do now? But I've also been on teams that had a more balanced structure.

I think when I was at Thoughtworks, one of my teams had a really good structure where our tech lead was wonderful. And he was good at asking individuals like more junior and senior people like, "What do you think we should do?" And gathering input and then being like, "All right, cool. Now, with all that information, let's move in this direction." And so that I thought was really helpful because it's like, oh yeah, you get to say your piece. But also, he was just like, "We're moving this way." And you're like, all right, cool. I will follow you. You know what we're doing. [laughs]

Aisha: So I'd love to talk a little bit more about your time as a consultant.

Megan: Yeah. Let's do it.

Aisha: What was valuable about that to you in that experience?

Megan: I really loved it. I was staffed at just one place the whole time that I was at Thoughtworks. So it was like a major retail company. They have an e-commerce store. They're international. And so, they were using consultants as staff augmentation. So it was like I was on a product team.

The product team was all Thoughtworks’ developers, which was really nice because we had a particular way that we liked to do things, so we paired exclusively. We did test-driven development. And so it was easier to do that when you have a whole team of people that are already bought into it.

And so I thought that it was a really great way to get leveled up very quickly. I joined, and because it's consulting, different people roll off the project at different times. So I joined the team. And then, within a couple of months, slowly, everybody else was rolled off the project, and other people were rolled on.

But suddenly, I was in this position where I was like, oh, I'm two months into this job as an entry-level dev, and I have the most context of the developers on this team, which was a little bit scary. But I think it was ultimately helpful because it helped me transition from…when I first joined; I was like, okay, I'm the junior. I'm the baby. I don't really know what we're talking about. This is my first time seeing any of this. So, people, please be gentle with me. [laughs]

But I think that I had gotten into this point where if you act like that for too long, then it starts to become a habit. And it's the way that you think about yourself. Like, I don't need to say anything in meetings because everybody else knows what they're talking about more than me. So they've got it covered, and I'll just help with whatever we're going to do.

And so I think that ending up being in this place where it was like, suddenly I'm the person in the room with the most context, helped me break out of that a little bit more and be like, okay, cool, I have things to contribute. I need to speak up and say them because that's ultimately going to help contribute to the team's success more than if I just sit here and don't say anything and wait for other people to figure it out. And so that I think was really good for me.

I think I also…one of my teammates while I was there gave me the feedback of when you say stuff in standup or whatever…I still sometimes do what I think that a lot of people who struggle with imposter syndrome do where I'll couch what I'm saying with "I'm not sure if this is how it works, but I think that.." whatever.

And my teammate gave me the feedback of when you do that, especially because we're consultants, you don't want to convey to the client that you don't know what you're talking about. So the framing that he gave me was instead just swapping out that filler phrase with, "In my experience, this is the solution that I think will work." And so that was really huge. Or, "The way that I currently understand it, this is how this thing works."

So it still gives you a caveat to be like, this is my understanding; I might be wrong. But it still comes across as more confident than immediately trying to sell yourself short. Because even if your idea is solid if people don't think that you know what you're talking about, they're less likely to listen to you. It kind of goes with the fake it till you make it a little bit. [laughs]

Aisha: Yeah. That transition from I'm the most junior person on the team, and I don't have the context, and I don't have the confidence, into a position where you really do know what you're talking about. Because there's a point there where it's not imposter syndrome, you just actually don't know.

Megan: Right. That's true.

Aisha: And you don't have the skills. And that's okay too. [laughs] But there is a super common overlap there where you're like, I feel like I don't know what I'm talking about, but in fact…and that's where the fake it till you make it is valuable. That's where you do have the skill, you do have the knowledge, and you want to convey that. And that's hard. That's a transition that I feel like so many people struggle to get through. And even as a more senior developer, I certainly have lots of those times where I'm like --

Megan: Totally, totally. I don't think that it ever fully goes away. [laughs]

Aisha: No. No.

Megan: But I think that knowing that is setting that expectation of you're always sometimes going to feel like you don't know what's going on. I think that that's very freeing because then when it happens to you, it's not like, oh, you're bad at this. It's just like, no, I just haven't learned this yet. That word, yet I think, is huge just being able to add that.

Aisha: Huge.

Megan: I don't know how to do this yet. Or like, I haven't learned this yet. But it doesn't mean that you can't. You can. You just got to give it a go. [laughs] Nobody is born knowing any of this stuff.

Aisha: Absolutely. I feel like Laurie Barth does a good job of this. [laughs] She's a full-on senior software engineer at Netflix and regularly will publicly be like, you know, sometimes you have to remember to add the files or add the changes before you try to commit. [laughs]

Megan: Right? Or just like, sometimes you got to save before your changes will show up. Who among us has not had that problem where you're trying to debug why this thing isn't working, and it turns out you were editing the wrong file? We've been there. [laughs]

Aisha: Absolutely. Who among us indeed. I'm embracing the moving between different disciplines within the industry. And not only using that as a way to broaden your skills, but I think that also gives you a really solid understanding of where your strengths and your interests lie. You've tried a bunch of things, and you seem like you're continuously moving closer to the part of the industry of a type of role that really suits you the best.

Megan: Yeah, totally. And I didn't even know that DevRel was a thing until, I guess, probably when you were posting about this job. Because I don't know, I'm sure that people have been doing stuff like this for a while. I'm also newer to the tech industry, but I feel like I've just recently started hearing about it.

And yeah, it feels like the perfect fit for my skill sets where it's about learning new things. It's about teaching them to other people. And then you can apply it to whatever…like; you can swap out the technology that you are learning and teaching. And those same skills of how to educate someone stay consistent from course to course.

I feel like so much of it is diving into the deep end to just see what even is in here. We're talking about the tech industry. What does that mean? What is security? What is accessibility? What's performance? There are so many different things that are encompassed under working in tech now that I think that you can really find any sort of niche that you're interested in and just follow that. And I don't think that you have to pick just one either.

I think that people talk about being T-shaped. So you know a little bit about a lot of stuff. And then you've got your one area that you're deeply an expert in. But I don't think that it even has to be one thing. I think that you can bounce around.

Aisha: Yeah, it could be an M shape.

Megan: Exactly. Just follow the stuff that you're curious about because that's how you learn new things. And that's how you're going to find what resonates with you. And I think that it's okay to just chase that feeling. [laughs]

Aisha: At least at the time of recording, I feel like there's been a lot of Twitter conversation about moving between roles. And I think that's specifically around increasing your pay, and we can talk about that too. But I just wanted to bring it up because I feel like it's relevant. And sometimes it's about money. And sometimes it's about whether you are content in your role, but also, sometimes it's about the skillset that you want to cultivate.

Megan: Yeah. I feel like that's part of the reason why I switched jobs. I was really happy at Thoughtworks. And I loved the people that I was working with. I even liked learning the kinds of stuff that I was learning.

But it was like, okay, if I want to focus on education, and get back into doing that, and flexing those muscles again; I need to find a role where my job description is more closely aligned to that. Because I was finding ways of onboarding new teammates and writing documentation for our team, which is good, but it's like, your own personal growth can be accelerated faster by just finding a job that is the job that you want to be doing.

Aisha: I think that moving between roles is maybe a more difficult subject, especially when you're just getting started. I know that some folks still feel like, oh, if I'm somewhere less than a year, I'm going to get questions about that. And to an extent, that's true.

I mean, I've stayed at a company for as little as ten months. And I was at a point in my career where I was comfortable doing that. And I was not concerned at all that that would be a question at any of the companies I was willing to work at. But I guess if you have thoughts on that or advice to folks who are getting started.

Megan: I don't have as much lived experience with that. I'm about to be three jobs deep into my official tech part of my career. And so at Thoughtworks, I was there for a little over two years, I think. And then Gatsby, I've been here for a year. Part of me feels like with the tech industry, not that it's expected, but it feels more commonplace to be like, oh, you stay here for a year and then you switch, especially in startups.

I feel like things are changing so frequently that I haven't had to deal with that stigma. I would imagine that when that becomes a red flag is when it's a pattern of like, oh, you've had ten jobs in the last three years. That's maybe when I, as a hiring manager, would be a little bit more suspicious of like, why? I don't know, though. That's just my own guess, though. That's not based on any hard facts. [laughs]

Aisha: And having spoken to a handful of specifically recruiters for contracting companies, I've seen that. And I've seen questions about gaps on resumes, which, personally, I think is a ridiculous thing to count against someone.

Megan: Right?

Aisha: But that's my personal feeling. It's something to be aware of. But I think that's where we come back around to making connections within your own communities. Because not only can you…I mean, I recommend doing that whenever you can for companies that you're applying to. If you know somebody who works there, reach out; if you don't know somebody…

And this actually also came up on Twitter the other day. They'd been given an assignment to reach out to somebody at a company they were interested in working for. And they were like, "I don't feel comfortable doing that. I don't think that that's practice, but am I wrong?"

Megan: They were given an assignment?

Aisha: Yeah, at school. I don't know what sort of coursework they're doing. But yeah, it was an assignment that they'd been given to reach out to someone on LinkedIn at a company they would want to work for.

Megan: And say what? Just like a cold email?

Aisha: Apparently.

Megan: Hire me.

[laughter]

Aisha: It wasn't clear what the ask was.

Megan: That's interesting.

Aisha: But my response to that, and I'm interested to know what you think, was essentially I get that sort of message a lot from other black women. And I'm always happy to respond to those questions because that feels like a matter of safety. Most of those questions, regardless of the words they use, typically boil down to do you feel safe and comfortable and supported in those environments? And sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes it's no.

But I think those sorts of conversations are important to have and included in that might be hey, I had a kid, and I took two years off from working. Now I'm trying to get back into maybe a slightly different type of role. What do you think? What should I be doing? Those sorts of questions I'm totally fine with, and I think are important. But it's much easier if you have taken the time and the energy to build out a supportive network.

Megan: Yeah, totally. Well, and I think that there's also something about like, are you truly cold emailing them, or is this somebody where you have got a relationship? Maybe it's not even that deep. Maybe it's just you've had some short conversations in a reply on a Twitter thread or something like that. But do you have some connection to this person already? Or are you like, do I know you or not?

And I think that also, there's a piece about expectations, the way that you word it. I try to always post…If I'm truly just cold emailing somebody, I try to set the expectations of I totally get it if you don't have time to respond to this. No is totally an okay answer, or no answer is an okay answer. Kurt Kemple, he had a different thread that he posted a different day about getting consent before you follow through with the request.

Aisha: Yes. I saw that.

Megan: Basically, the point that he was making is it takes him energy to process what you are asking for and just assuming that they'll do it for you without getting confirmation from them; getting that consent is not very nice. It doesn't feel great as being the person on the other end of it. So I think that a lot of people are very willing to help. So I don't want to scare people away from asking for help.

But just be intentional about the way that you ask for help. How do you word it? Do you say hello to them at the beginning? Or do you say why you're asking them for help? Are you giving them a chance to say, "Yes, I have the bandwidth to help you with this," or "No, I don't. Maybe go ask somebody else." Just be nice. [chuckles]

Aisha: I think in a lot of ways, maybe not in that specific example but in other aspects of the way that you operate publicly, and even down to, in some cases, the things that you devote time to learning, I think that taking stock of what specifically you admire about the people in the industry, that you are a fan of, who you're a fan of, are doing and saying and how they're moving in those spaces makes a lot of sense. I know Angie Jones talks a lot about being a mentor in modeling the way she thinks one should operate, even if it's not a one-on-one relationship. And I think that that has a lot of merit.

Megan: Well, I love that. And I feel like that's so much of being a teacher too. It's just modeling the behavior that you want people…like how you want people to behave, because I think that they'll notice. Even subconsciously, they'll notice the kinds of interactions that you have. Are you open to feedback or to criticism? Or do you get really defensive and buckle down on your original argument? I think that part of being a good teacher is doing that, modeling. Be the change that you want to see in the world or however that quote goes.

[laughter]

Aisha: Exactly. Well, I know we're running short on time, and I really appreciate you spending this much time with me.

Megan: Yeah, always a pleasure. It's always fun. [laughs]

Aisha: I love chatting with you. Is there anything that you want to plug and where can folks find you?

Megan: Oh, yeah. So I am on [chuckles] Twitter more than I ought to be. You can follow me @meganesulli M-E-G-A-N-E-S-U-L-L-I. I also blog at meganesulli.com. I put out an article a little while ago about how you can be a better learner and learning strategies that you can use to retain information better. I'm hoping to put out some more blog posts soon.

Aisha: Yeah, that last one sounds perfect. We'll link it in the show notes.

Megan: Oh, thanks. It's got some fun doodles in it, which I'm still trying to find what I want my vibe to be for my content. I do a lot of doodles in my own notes. So I feel like that's the kind of thing that I want to incorporate more of. But yeah, if you've got thoughts or feedback, send me a DM. [laughs]

Aisha: Perfect. Well, thank you, all, so much for listening. Be sure to check out our other podcasts, Observy McObservface and Polyglot. And we'll see you back here soon.

Megan: Awesome. Thank you so much for having me. This was fun.

Aisha: Absolutely.

Jonan: Thank you so much for joining us. We really appreciate it. You can find the show notes for this episode along with all of the rest of The Relicans podcasts on therelicans.com. In fact, most anything The Relicans get up to online will be on that site. We'll see you next week. Take care.

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