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Higher versus lower order thinking with Wesley Faulkner Episode 17

Higher versus lower order thinking with Wesley Faulkner

Wesley Faulkner is a Senior Community Manager at AWS. Amazon Web Services provides on-demand cloud computing platforms and APIs to individuals, companies, and governments, on a metered pay-as-you-go basis.

· 17:49


Jack: Hi, everyone. You're listening to scaling DevTools the show that investigates how devs go from zero to one. I'm joined today by Wesley Faulkner, the Senior Community Manager at AWS.

I'm laughing because we've done this about three times because we had some recording issues. Wesley is also the cohost of Community Pulse and has previously worked with single-store AMD and Atlassian. I'm really excited for this interview because I specifically saw some amazing tweets that Wesley had had and knew we had to get Wesley on the show to hear what his thoughts were on this Wesley tweeted about higher order thinking and how you have to understand that developers are higher-order thinkers.

If you're gonna succeed in building tools that are popular for developers. Wesley, thanks so much for joining. Would you be able to tell us a little bit more about this?

Wesley: Yes. It's like I sent it out on a Saturday and I was actually, I was, trying to do my taxes and I really hate doing taxes.

And so this was a distraction. And I've been, Newling on an idea that I was, working through with conversations I've had on two different streams. One was a really good friend of mine. We were talking about where is DevRel going. We were moving towards the same trajectory as when I used to do social media management.

So we went from people who were just very philosophical in terms of their approach and those people who had a philosophy were told to kind of like put it in print, how do you do this thing? And so it got distilled down from. Higher order, like grand idea, thinking to tactics and steps to actually do the execution.

And then, from the other direction, someone who's brand new to DevRel they were told basically to enact a strategy and kind of sell it up about what steps they'll do to actually make a successful community in DevRel. And so this person, was really struggling. Like how do you broach this idea.

How do I explain DevRel to them, even though I'm hired to do this, I'm the only person doing it. How do I actually convince them this is the right approach. And so that kind of those two storms kind of merged together and came out in this tweet about how, when developers are out there developing, working eight hours a day, Minimum, basically, to solve problems, to expand existing code, to come up with approach from an infrastructure perspective about how they actually are gonna deploy some of these things that they're thinking of, maintaining it, managing it, observing it, growing it, all that stuff.

It takes kind of a, type of thought process that not just is a. Single issue, but, a multifaceted prism of different ideas. When you're trying to push it out there about scaling it about the users about user experience, how the data's gonna be stored compliance. There are so many different layers to solving an issue and a problem.

You, you don't want to be in a place where your mind is thinking about so many other things that are super kind of basic. Like, can I feed myself, do I have shelter? Do I feel loved? Do I feel accepted? There are a lot of things that if you don't have some of those lower-order needs taken care of it really impairs your higher-order thinking.

And when you get to the point when you can. Understand the bigger picture, you understand the landscape of the human existence. You're able to then kind of like focus on really reaching to the people who are gonna be using the software rather than your own self of being taken care of. And so when you're relating to developers, you have to have that higher order thinking in order to meet them where they are.

So if you are talking to someone and you're trying to give them a $25 Amazon gift card. If they're a higher-order thinker, they could just like, eh, I could take it or leave it, or that's not super attractive to me. But if you talk to them about how they could feel, more loved, if they could feel more accepted, if they could work better with their colleagues, if they can be more of an individual amongst groups to the point where they can feel like they can bring their whole self to work. For instance, like those things kind of reach towards the higher order thinking. And, of course, there's all the things around it about having them do their job better, having them be able to, make cleaner code, faster code, be more efficient.

Those are all things that also meet the higher order thinking. But it's not just that it's just being able to see the same. Issues from an empathetic point of view so that you can reach them, so that you're really talking to the thing that's taking up most of their head space, most of the time, rather than the thing that.

Is almost settled in their life in terms of taking things they taken care of. So that's kind of like the quick overview of like the Twitter thread, how it came about and why I thought it was important because it speaks to not just the persons that is just now getting started in a DevRel but the person who is struggling to explain DevRel to those who really don't know how to actually have a construct of what to think about it.

Jack: That makes so much sense. And when you think of examples of this, in terms of what does work and what doesn't work, are there any that spring to mind in higher order thinking versus a lower order marketing campaign or communication that didn't work? So well.

Wesley: I think when you're thinking a little bit more higher order, you're thinking of multiple steps and multiple engagements where it's not a one-and-done and transactional as you move higher, it's more relationship driven. So if you want someone to buy your product, you don't go to them and say, buy my product. You might want to talk to them saying, what are your needs? What are you struggling? And it may take a couple of hops to be able to refine your message, to figure out where they are and what you are giving them.

And then the, then diagram over the overlap. I remember one role that I had where we were trying to do. I think a black Friday giveaway, some sort of sale. And my manager at the time told me to go to all these different forums and copy and paste it to these different groups that we had no relationship, no prior communication with, and just basically spam these groups, that sort of thing doesn't work.

And one of the things that I was also saying in that thread is that it does negative work. Like it'll make people hit your brand, or actually not even. Consider you in the future because of that first impression of a negative exchange where it was very unidirectional. So that was one of the things that really, turned off a lot of the users at that time.

But one of the other things that I I've done in the past that resonated with users is that we had, t-shirts, t-shirt giveaways are just, almost like one of the mill, but we hired a cartoon artist, and paid them. F on an hourly rate. And then we customize them all of the t-shirts with the pictures of either themselves or their kids or their family, onto the shirts so that it wasn't something they just got through in a bag and never.

Pulled out or wore it made it something that they were proud of wearing because it didn't just represent the company. It represented them, which is, one of the higher order thinking things that you can do where you can find out how it really speaks to them by incorporating a bit of their needs and bit of their wants and the things that they're proud of.

And then entangling that with what you're trying to do. So it was minimal in terms of our cost. I think we paid the artist 200 bucks an hour. Which was the really good rate that they usually didn't get, but also it allowed us to not only have the marketing effect of having. A personalized experience for the users, but it actually made a little bit of a line, which made a little of a spectacle, which made it like a rarity of like, oh, I want one of those things as well.

And so it was one of those things that were wildly successful that's but that's more marketing rather than message-driven. But, that's an example of where, when I say higher order thinking, Some people might think that it means that you have to pay way more money or spend way more time, but it could be just, just changing your approach when you're just talking to someone.

Jack: There are really interesting examples. And it ties into what you told me in the previous conversation where you talked about how from the outside you see outputs that companies do, but this is not necessarily. A lot of the invisible work that goes on to understand those higher-order needs isn't seen.

And you said that sometimes companies try to just copy what others are doing and expect the same results.

Wesley: Exactly. There is a customization that happens with the delivery of this and not just the delivery. If someone says, is giving away an Nintendo switch and that goes wildly successful, a company B might see that and just like, oh, we'll just give away an Nintendo switch, but they may not see about the packaging or, the previous polls that they did about what is the most popular thing that their user base might want or, Maybe previously, they, also had like a downloadable skin or game or something like that.

Or they had a previous campaign that was kind of like switch, like and this was maybe something that was building upon something they did previously. So when you sample other people's work, you can't just necessarily, expect the same type of result. If you didn't do the same kind of sweat equity that your competitors.

Jack: Yeah, that's really interesting. And I think for me, what's what I'm taking away is that, that you need to do a lot of work to really understand what your audience care about, the, what your ideal customers care about.

Wesley: Yes. And you have to care. And some of that caring is upfront. Some of it's stirring and some of it's after where.

The length of the engagement. Like I mentioned before, the example of the forums, some of that matters, you have to keep showing up, if you don't set that track record and create that trust, between, this is what we wanna do, this is what we're doing. How did the thing that we did go, that's also part of the process of executing, consistently and caring and reacting and adapting to the people that you're trying to service.

Jack: That's really interesting. And another thing that I think ties in really well, is you've spoken about how things work and that desire to understand how things work which I think is something that you feel very strongly about yourself. But I'd love to kind of hear what your thoughts are.

About developers wanting to understand how things work.

Wesley: Yes. So, developers will come into a system that's either brand new or also if it's not brand new, they need to maintain code that they possibly have never seen before. And in order to approach that you have to have a certain type of thinking of.

What is this code block supposed to be doing? What does it need to talk to in order to be effective? Like what variables or input and where does it need to send that in terms of the output? And then taking that apart, shoving new things into it, and then putting it out there into the world. So if you're doing this day after day, hour to hour, Minute after minute weeks after weeks, months after months, years after years, you're kind of training your brain to kind of see things and take it apart.

And so when you approach that as your job, as the main part of your job, that becomes your standard. That comes your, standard operating procedure of how you approach things. And so when you see, marketing materials or an approach where they say, we're the best at this, or we're the fastest at this, you're kind of like, how are you faster?

How are you the best? What are you measuring it by? What is the approach there? So all of those things, kind of, this way of thinking infects the way that you kind of approach, not just your standard work life, but then your home life, your personal life. And of course, when you're watching ads, when you're watching trailers, you're trying to figure.

Oh, is that the villain? Or I wonder if that's from that comic or I recognize how that's being approached because they're probably gonna try to use this to feed in other characters. Like you really, aren't just taking things at its face, but you're really drawing the lines backwards and forwards to see how everything interconnects.

Jack: And you had a good analogy with a potion that makes you tall.

Wesley: Yes. Like if someone was selling you a potion that makes you taller, you're probably wondering, does it stretch out your bones? Did you make your foot thicker? So that you're kind of like on platforms, you kind of want to know how the thing works instead of just saying.

Oh, yeah. It makes it taller. I don't care how it works. Maybe it makes my hair grow faster. I don't know. How things work is important when you're trying to be a approached, but especially with something that's making a claim that feels on its face pretty substantial.

Jack: Yeah. That makes a lot of sense.

And Wesley, when it comes to higher order thinking and, understanding your audience, investing in long term, some of it feels like it might have a slower payoff.

How do we justify this kind of investment? Especially if we're a startup that needs users or signups really quickly.

Wesley: Yes, that ties into the higher thinking as from the perspective of the startup. If they are on the bottom rung, where they need to feed themselves, they need to close themselves. They need to make sure that they make a name for themselves in order to get that next round of investment in order to get more users to show that what they're doing is grabbing hold. They need that stuff pretty immediately. And the question is like, can you do a lot of these long term bets? And then at the same time, try to get some of these short term payoffs. And the answer is you can do both, when you are creating content that is appealing to the higher order thinking you can do that in stages.

For instance, if I give a talk about, working. With teams more efficiently or how D and I can really impact belonging in a team for, team efficiency. Those talks, given those on a stage. Once probably impacts way more people, because it is more relevant to way more people than talking about how to deploy your.net application.

For, some SAS base, like enterprise customer base. So those are two different things for two different audiences. But what you can do is if you do the establishing wider order things, You can build on those by saying, okay, this is how. We took this philosophy of including, inclusion and belonging.

And this is how we built this example and here's the code base. And then you can show, okay, now this is a way that you can use this to help make you more efficient or use this to, save time in your deployments or depending on your niche. This is how you can. Not do the thing, what we're doing, but take the same kind of tools to kind of create your own solution.

So the philosophy establishment stickiness layer, that when I was talking about the multiple hops, this is one of the things that it is necessary to do, but it doesn't mean that the payoff necessarily has to wait to the end. I've given talks where people have come up to me and say, I've never heard of this company that you work for, but I tell you what I'm gonna visit them afterwards.

And so the thinking is that you're doing, when you do one, you're doing one or the other, but you can do both simultaneously just from different ways, in terms of the way the conversion works. You might not say like sign up for the trial and have that measured, but I can tell you sometimes that have given talks that directly relates to trial bumps.

But you might not see them click a link or understand all of that. That's why you see like names on lanyard. But there's no link on it. The awareness factor is part of the, the kind of decision criteria that may not be obvious to other people. One of the questions that I got when I did the thread is like, okay, well, I don't think.

Conferences are good places for me to make decisions on what products to buy. But the question is then what is, so you're gonna talk to a friend possibly, and your friend might say whether they've used it or not, whether or not solved their problem or not, that person. May give specific examples, but I bet you've talked to other people about products.

You're like, yeah, I like it. And that's basically the feedback you get. It seems to work or, it gives me a delightful experience and those residual feelings are built off those talks. And even if you're talking to someone who's just barely heard of this thing, they see, they could say, oh, I hear good things.

I hear. Good things. What is the saying? Like, some people may not remember what you've told them, but they will remember how you made them feel. And that's the kind of, thing that you should try to strive for is to make sure that you really appeal to and show that you care for the people that you're trying to service.

Jack: I think that's a really good note to end on. Thank you so much, Wesley. It's been, uh, an absolute pleasure. Where can people learn more about what you've got to.

Wesley: Well, you mentioned the community pulse podcast. So if you go to Communitypulse.io, you can find me and several other cohosts there who are amazing.

One of which I think was on a previous show, an an ex cohost, sad drip, drip, and then there is Twitter. You can find me @wesley83 on Twitter and, linked on my bio there, you can find my poly work account where I kind of like list all the things, all my appearances there. So if you're interested in my perspective, just in general, you can find all my work there.

Thanks so much, Wesley. And thanks everyone for listening. We'll see you again very soon.

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