Episode #134: Serverless Community Building with Farrah Campbell

April 25, 2022 • 47 minutes

On this episode, Jeremy and Rebecca chat with Farrah Campbell about the AWS Developer Community, the programs devs can participate in, the importance of developer advocacy and community building, why serverless and container devs should be friends, and so much more.

About Farrah Campbell

After 10 years of working in healthcare management, a serendipitous 20-minute car ride with Kara Swisher inspired Farrah to make the jump into technology. She has worked at multiple startups in many different capacities, eventually working her way to being the Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Containers & Serverless.

Farrah previously worked as Ecosystems Director, at Stackery where she managed the relationship with AWS including Stackery as an Advanced Technology Partner, achieving the AWS DevOps Competency, a launch partner for Lambda Layers and is an AWS Serverless Hero. Farrah has cultivated the serverless community as an organizer of Portland Serverless Days, the Portland Serverless Meetup, along with numerous serverless workshops and the Portland tech community events from Techfest to bringing multiple luminaries to Portland.


Rebecca: Hey, everyone. I'm Rebecca Marshburn.

Jeremy: And I'm Jeremy Daly.

Rebecca: And you are listening to Serverless Chats. Jeremy, I am curious if you have any stories about when the third time has been the charm.

Jeremy: When the third time has been the charm. Oh, I don't know.

Rebecca: Because I think this third time as the first and the second, but this third time will also be the charm with our very special guest. You want to introduce her?

Jeremy: Yes. So, this guest is entering the third-timers club. So this is a new thing we're doing on Serverless Chats. Not really. I'm making it up right now. But it's just like the Five-Timers Club on Saturday night live. We have the third timers club for Serverless Chats. This is an amazing guest. I'm so happy to have her here. She is the Senior Product Marketing Manager for modern applications at AWS, Farrah Campbell. Hey Farrah, thank you so much for joining us again and again.

Rebecca: Again, and again, and again.

Farrah: Can I be like, "Woohoo. I made it to the third timers club."

Farrah: Anyway. No, it's always fun to chat with you. I mean, I feel like I've known you guys forever now and that we've been working so closely and just now in different ways in the last few years. So it's great to be back now that I'm at AWS doing similar things to what Rebecca was doing.

Jeremy: Right, right. Yeah. Well, so we met I think well before you were at Stackery and we connected on a few different things. And then of course, Rebecca, with the Heroes Program and I was a hero, you were a hero, we were all heroes, which was awesome. And anyways, but so now what are you doing at AWS specifically?

Farrah: I'm the senior product marketing manager for containers and serverless, but my focus is really on engagement and advocacy. I kind of consider myself... Well, I manage the hero program for container serverless, but also the new community builder program, which is awesome for containers and serverless. And I kind of see myself as a bridge, somebody that helps to collect feedback from our communities and then make sure that they get to the right people. And you could only imagine how much coverage that is across those two services, those two categories.

Rebecca: Will you tell us a little bit more about the different levels of those community programs? So there's the AWS Heroes and the AWS Community Builders. I know there are worldwide user groups, but I think you're focused primarily on the first two. And I think a lot of times, I mean, they're both really excellent programs, but they definitely invite different levels of experience or people who are maybe at a different point in their journeys along being guides, mentors, content creators, et cetera. So will you tell us a little bit about the distinctions of those programs?

Farrah: Sure. For the Heroes, I think we have 230 of them, or... Yeah. I think it's 230 now around the world. And that program's different because we can't opt in. So for the Community Builders Program, you can register or apply for it. And for the Heroes Program, that's not something that you can apply for externally. It's all done internally. I would say our heroes also help to enable community builders. Both of them act as user group leaders. Both of them are working to help communities learn more about building on top of AWS. But I say the clear distinction is Heroes is more of our VIP group, and it's something that you can't apply for.

Jeremy: Yeah. The Heroes Program, again, it's great. I mean, going out to Reinvent and this is one of the things we were talking about. There's this huge dinner and then usually Werner shows up for, I mean, it's amazing. And then access to early to have the ability to comment on things or to see things as they're being built and give some early feedback and talk about how it impacts the things that we're doing and stuff like that. There's a couple of examples, where just feedback from heroes helped shape the product better, which is just amazing.

Jeremy: And so I want to talk about Community Builders too, because that's sort of a relatively new program and I think that's super cool. But just quickly on the heroes thing, just if anybody's out there because I've had people ask me too that how do we become a hero? And I said, "We just got to get a cape and that's pretty much all you need." But seriously though, what are the qualities that you look for in heroes and what are the things that make people stand out, at least in your eyes and AWS when choosing those people?

Farrah: I mean, I can speak for myself. I can't speak for these other reviewers. There's multiple steps along the way. But for me, I think, for people that are really out there just working to enable communities, it's not for their job. It's not for a group that they're involved in. But it's really somebody that's taking the time working to understand what problems people are facing and then taking the time to try to address those. And they're out there running user groups, maybe smaller events, they write a lot of content, maybe they're developing white papers, a lot of contributions to OSS that are maintaining projects that are really valued by the communities because they solve problems that AWS hasn't solved. So I think that it's for people that... It can't be self-serving. I think that's really what makes a hero. It's somebody that's out there giving to others and that's the primary goal.

Rebecca: Yeah. So that's philosophically. Let's talk tactically for a moment. And I know that I only want to ask you to speak for yourself, but there are so many dimensions of which you're starting to look at like internally, who might "Qualify" as a hero at this point in their journey. And it's wild. When I was there I had what we call a spreadsheet of doom, where you have all these names on the lip and all these columns along the top. And you're like, what do they do on GitHub? What do they do on Stack Overflow? Do they have a personal blog? What have their talks been on YouTube? Are they presenting at places? Are they going to meetups? Are they a user group leader? And then they have all these sort of like, yes, no, yes, no.

Rebecca: And then technically how sound and clean their code is, et cetera, et cetera. And then you have technical reviewers and all these sorts of things too. Is that still what your process looks like? For me, I guess in... So I now work at this startup called Common Room, which is all about like enabling the community leaders to be able to let go of their spreadsheet of doom and surface those insights. It's like legitimately why I left. I was like, this is such a hard problem to tackle as a community leader. Then this company was building this platform to do that. Is that still how you're doing it as well? A very manual spreadsheet of doom, a bunch of columns and rows, or have you, and I hope you have found an easier, maybe simpler, cleaner way for you to be able to track who these wonderful people are across the globe that are contributing to the community.

Farrah: I wish we had something more than a [inaudible 00:07:25] spreadsheet. But hopefully at some point we'll be able to use Common Room and have my problem solved. So I don't know how much I can talk about the steps, but what I can say is that it is very important right now for us to find people that are in underrepresented markets, underrepresented... What needs to be more inclusive. Let's just say that.

Farrah: And so trying to find ways to help others that want to get involved. I really think the Community Builders Program has been great for that. And it's actually really refreshing to see this new energy coming in. And because everybody is so excited. And for me, just like actually watching the serverless, everybody coming in from the serverless that community that I already knew. And these are people from all around the world. We have our first serverless hero in South Africa. And he's hanging out now with [Feliciwa 00:08:19] who we used to be an AWS hero who was actually working to help more customers understand how to build with AWS. So I think it's really important to keep finding ways to find regions and people that we can help.

Jeremy: I just am sort of stunned to find out that there was a technical code review because I don't know how I made it through that. So somebody really screwed up on your team at the time, Rebecca.

Rebecca: I'll let the cat out of the bag, actually I was reviewing your code.

Jeremy: Oh, okay. Well that makes me feel- [crosstalk 00:08:52].

Rebecca: No, I was not reviewing your code. That is not true. Don't worry. That would be a myth. That would be very misleading if I was actually saying I was reviewing. That's a joke, everyone. I was not reviewing Jeremy's code. I promise.

Rebecca: Farrah, I think something as well that's really indicative of AWS in your programs really embracing globality is in inclusivity as there's also scholarship programs to reinvent, I believe. Especially for people from those underrepresented groups or underrepresented backgrounds or countries that don't normally get as much focus let's say, or maybe are known for "Likely being developer rich." Which is, which is not true. And so I love of that AWS is that you all are spearheading these types of programs. Is there anything that you can share about those scholarships to reinvent or those types of programs you're trying to bring those people into the fold that might normally not get the attention that they deserve?

Farrah: Yeah, I think last year, and I can't remember the exact number, but I actually got to meet one of our Community Builders. And they do get a discount to be able to attend Reinvent Heroes, they get to come to it for free. But there was a program one of the community developers, she pride for the diversity scholarship and got to attend reinvents and had money to cover the whole thing. She had money to cover food because that's one thing that you just don't anticipate, is how expensive everything is there. So-

Jeremy: In Vegas [crosstalk 00:10:19].

Farrah: I really thought you get a burger and a beer, and it's $50 you know?

Rebecca: Yeah.

Farrah: I guess you opt out for the French fries because that's an additional cost. That's kind of what I remember about it. But yeah, it's really actually kind of awesome to get to meet some of our Community Builders through those programs and it just kind of helps you to understand how important they are.

Jeremy: Yeah. And the Community Builders Program. So can you... Because that is more of an open that's something you can opt into right? And get accepted into. And I see all the time you announcing new Community Builders and so forth. Just a quick overview of that program again and what people need to do to be part of that. And I guess what's some of the benefits are of being part of that program.

Farrah: Yeah, sure. So some of the benefits would be that you're getting to connect with other AWS enthusiasts from all around the world and you know that you know what that power of connection can be. I mean, being able to collaborate with Alex Debri that you've met through this program, [inaudible 00:11:16], and a lot of this has been doing this. Like I said, the hero program is specifically... We've seen a lot of really good connections and now we're starting to see that in the community builders. And I just think having the opportunity to ask questions in a group where you have different people with different types of experiences, working at different companies and as we all know or everybody's learning how to build these architectures and to develop a more modern application strategy. And so just being able to get feedback from a thousand people from around the world is pretty powerful.

Farrah: Other benefits that are, being able to get connected to service teams by reaching out to community leads like me. They also get to join sometimes we can get to do early briefings or to be involved in projects where we're looking for early feedback, which is nice. You get to get a credit for certificates to take some of our courses.

Farrah: What else do they get? You get credits for just AWS credits to keep building. There's all kinds of benefits. But I would really say the one that makes me most excited is seeing how people are connected from all around the world and then self organizing to create projects to help enable more communities. Currently with the Serverless Community Builders, we have a Serverless Community Builders project where a number of them have come together and medium monthly, and they had this whole like GithHub org where we're tracking projects that they want to work on, maybe content that they want to write and more themes that I can take back to the service teams of issues that they're running into. And just watching all that happen is... I don't know, this makes me want to help them even more.

Rebecca: So let's talk about organizing. We often get to this topic at the end of this show. Maybe we're like, "Okay, tell us about your technical things and what you're serving application wise and the services you're using, or."

Rebecca: But this is so integral to your job and mission. So let's dive into it right now. You've cultivated the serverless community as an organizer of so many things, right? Portland ServerlessDays, the Portland serverless meet up, numerous serverless workshop, support tech community events from Tech Fest, multiple luminaries coming to Portland. And that's just what you've done in your own hometown.

Rebecca: You also support communities across the globe. You travel to speak and meet them all over the country. You enable people to self organize through the Builders Program and the Heroes Program. And you do this in such a way where it seems like the logistics just "Fall away," and everything happens organically.

Rebecca: But the trick to that is the community being together feels simple, but it's actually so hard to do. It's a whole slew of planning, and thinking, and spreadsheets, and logistics, and calls, and questions and answers that enable it to happen. And I think a lot of folks are trying to figure out how do they also either run an in-person event or a digital event, or have a programmatic series of events? How do they bring people together?

Rebecca: And so I'm wondering if you can share some of your best practices for first bringing the community together digitally, or what's really helped people self-organized or what they've needed in their "Organization kit." And then we can talk about tips for bringing together people in person, which you're also great at. But let's start digitally since that's where we've been in the world recently.

Farrah: Okay. Yeah. I'd say just getting to know people first. So I take the time. I know with all the new community builders, we have a welcome call and I tell them things that I want to help them with, or here's certain things that I've helped other Community Builders with, so please reach out. So I feel like starting to gather feedback first and just helping them to understand that you are engaged and are there and are listening. I make sure to respond to Slack messages in our group that, I don't know, that I'm recognizing all of the work that they're doing. And I think that's really an important piece is to be present. And it's not just about I guess, following along in the conversations, but also participating.

Farrah: And then what I do is I gather a lot of notes and try to keep track of them somehow in the 50 different places that I keep them. And so at one point I'm going to have to streamline that, but it is in about 50 different places right now. But I still know where they're all at, which is awesome. And then I would say I've been really, really lucky to be able to work with the service teams the way I have, because of I'd say the relationship that I had with folks when I was at Stackery. And so, developing the right relationships, making sure you bringing information and themes so I can get the service teams connected. Because at the end of the day, I'm mean the Community Builders and the heroes, they're there because they care about a specific service, an AWS product. Something has simplified their lives in building and they want to know more about it. So they can help teach others and enable other people to find the same wins.

Farrah: And so making sure I can help get our service teams engaged. I run a lot of webinars with our service teams, with the DA teams, really with anybody I can find that will do them. And I try to do them morning and evening just so we can capture global audience. So I'd say those are some of the things that I've done digitally to activate the community and to help them start self-organized. Because when we're feeding them information, I feel like that helps to give them information on things that they want to do. And then making sure that I'm taking back all the work that they're doing and plugging it back to the service team. So it's recognized on the AWS side because I think that feels really good for them.

Rebecca: Oh my gosh. I totally know your experience about writing notes everywhere. The big joke is that when I really need to do something, I will write a note on my hand because I know that I'm going to wash my hand. So I have to do it very quickly. And that's like, you know that it's go time if Rebecca writes a note on her hand. So you've also brought together people in-person recently. And I think Jeremy has a question he wanted to ask you about this.

Jeremy: Yeah, I was going to also make the comment that I think every time Farrah and I ever met in-person it was because we were either speaking at the same conference or it was reinvented, something like that. So I feel like I've never... I don't know if I've ever seen you in Portland. I think I've only seen you in Belfast and in... Where else were we together? Cardiff and Boston and some of these other places.

Jeremy: So anyways, always wonderful to see people in person. And that's a crazy thing where the pandemic has been a tragedy on so many levels and the one of the biggest things for me, and this is I think doing this podcast has kept me sane because I've been able to talk to people which we just really haven't been able to do in person for the longest time. And before the pandemic hit, these conferences, especially the ServerlessDays conferences and even Reinvent.

Jeremy: And it was great to get some people back at Reinvent. It was a little bit different. The masks and all that kind of stuff, whatever. But just getting people in person. Going and sitting down with them and having a coffee or having a beer or going out to dinner or the parties that they do. It's electric. It's such a different sort of feeling to be in the same room.

Jeremy: And I know when I go to some of these conferences, I barely ever listen to the talks because I just want to hang out in the hallway and talk to people. But yeah. You've done a bunch of these. You and I did one together at Reinvent. We did the Servers For Everyone thing, which was so much fun. Which would be great to do that again, in the future.

Jeremy: Just in terms of bringing people together in-person logistically in the past it was hard, it's probably even harder now. But logistically what are some of those tips? If you were going to do that, I know ServerlessDays New York is going to have an in-person one, ServerlessDays Paris is having an in-person, obviously Reinvent that's a massive undertaking, but if you're a smaller community doing meetups things like that, what are some of those tips to sort of work that out logistically?

Farrah: Oh man. Well, this is a big question. It depends on what kind of event we're running. I mean, are we doing the containers and serverless zone because that's a whole lot more than the networking lounge that we had.

Jeremy: Well, let's start with maybe the local meetup maybe progressing to a small conference or something like that.

Farrah: So I mean, I feel like I always start with trying to find an exciting speaker, somebody that kind of gets people excited. And then I make sure that there's snacks and there's food and drinks. [crosstalk 00:20:19]. No there has to be snacks and there has to be some sort of food, but you have to have food to cover people's dietary needs. And so I'm very, very aware of that. And I also make sure, because we have beer, alcohol, I don't want it to feel heavy and that other folks will always go make sure I find some special fancy sodas, something that's not like the Sprite or diet Coke, but it's something that's more like a beer. I've even got no duals to have there.

Farrah: So I feel like, when people feel like you thought about them when they show up and there's, I don't know, there's something for everyone and you don't feel like, well, you walk in... And I remember being at some events and like I can't eat any of this because I'm not eating dairy right now or whatever it is. So I think making sure that you have the right things to help people well too, know that the right things to make sure everyone is comfortable.

Farrah: And then, I'd say making sure women are comfortable at these events. I like to have name tags just that have more representation. So making sure people have maybe if they want to be talked to right now, I would say in COVID how close you can I think at coupon I saw like one was green meant that you could come up and give them a hug. Blue meant they were cool with a fist bump. And then a red was like, "Hey, please, I don't want to have anybody reach out and hug me." And I thought that was really cool. So doing things like that just to make sure that people feel comfortable.

Farrah: Always have to think about having good internet so people can get... I don't know if you guys all remember ServerlessDays Portland, but it was a great event, but I did not have wifi. I then realized that I needed to get that for the building that I was using. And so I had like Kelsey High Tower was doing a live demo and we weren't able to get on time and it was just, so

Jeremy: That's why I don't do live demos in a conference talk. And that's just conference speaking 101. It's all recorded and then you just pretend it's live.

Farrah: But then I think there's also has to be a space where people aren't selling to them. There has to be a space for people to kind of come together and just engage. And I think we did the Serverless For Everyone party and we're asking for people to sponsor. And so there's a lot of companies. And they want to show off who they are and we're telling them, "No, that's not what this event is for, ask people to go to your booth or give them your card and set up a meeting for tomorrow. But this space here is for people to get to know one another."

Farrah: And I think we made sure we had the right people. We're inviting other leaders from across different categories, different teams, different services. And I think that really is what makes an event awesome. Is when you have different people that can come together to solve hard problems or just to connect in ways and be like, "Hey, I remember you from Twitter or seeing your name on Twitter."

Rebecca: I think too talking about... Well, first I want to compliment you both on the Serverless For Everyone party. I got to be an attendee and I loved it a lot. It's still one of my highlights years later.

Rebecca: Talking about space, Farrah, I think you did this really well in the serverless container zone at Reinvent just a few months ago. But it's also to really clearly call out. If you want people to hang around somewhere, you have to give them either a place to lean or a place to sit. And you definitely did that.

Rebecca: There was a few tables, there was some chairs, there was some sort of like high tables or high, I don't know what you would call that banister-ish things, if you will, where people can lean. And it seems so silly to say out loud, but if you don't offer that, then people will end up just kind of standing and feeling like, "Well, I guess I'll go," because you can't find that place of comfort.

Rebecca: And so I thought what you did so well with the space that you had at the serverless container zone. If you had a couple focal points. So that was like, DDR machines and then a little stage where something was happening. And then you also gave of people the chance to be an audience where they could also relax in the audience. So they had a few places to sit or they could lean. And so when they were talking, it didn't feel like they had to move through. It felt like they could kind of stick around. And I think that's really important whether or not you're at a small meetup or a larger conference or a space in the middle where if you want people to stick around to talk, you have to give them a way to be comfortable while they do that. And I think you nailed that at the booth last year.

Farrah: Ah, well, thank you. Yeah, no, that was very deliberate. I wanted places for people to hang out and sit, they needed to have charging station. I wanted the tabletops to be whiteboard. So people if they were there talking, they would have a space to be able to write and to share.

Farrah: So that was the tables where people could sit, but also on the... I can't remember what they're called. Standing table, the high talk tables. But I thought that was awesome. Just kind of watching our team, sit there and be whiteboarding with customers. You knew that was kind of a win, but yeah. And then having food and drinks. So we had you having different things, coffee and teas and no champagne. Apparently that was a big no, no.

Rebecca: My bad. Sorry about that.

Jeremy: Well, I tell you. Anywhere you can go to watch two grown men, one dressed up as a squirrel and the other one dressed up as an author doing dance, dance revolution. I mean, if that's not the place to hang out, I don't know. I don't know what is, so. Anyways, so- [crosstalk 00:25:56].

Farrah: That was actually awesome. That's another thing. If you have to have things for people to do. So there needs to be engaging activities. And so I had the [inaudible 00:26:04] machine and then I had the DDR machine. Try to find a way to keep it fun and something that audience would might want to do, so.

Jeremy: Yeah, no, it was great. Now, one of the things about this serverless and container zone is that you brought serverless and containers together. There's all kinds of jokes about, oh, serverless versus containers and the whole thing.

Jeremy: So I'm just curious, bringing those people together. Obviously it's not binary anymore with Fargate and all these other things. And of course people are building applications that are using Lambda and event bridge and all this kind of stuff, but they're also still using Kubernetes and other services that maybe aren't so much serverless.

Jeremy: And again, just people are building really interesting modern apps using all of these different services now. So I'm just curious, when you bring these people together now because I think when it first started it kind of wasn't that way it was almost like containers went into a separate room and then the servers people went into a separate room. I remember at that developer advocate or the developer influence conference, it was like container people went here and servers people went there. And now it seems that these things are merging together. So I'm just curious what your impression of that is maybe, or just the new thinking around this.

Farrah: Well, so the containers and serverless zone was my idea. And I think it's silly to separate the two. A lot of our serverless heroes are actually working on Kubernetes projects as well. And a lot of our container heroes are very well versed in Lambda. And so I don't think it's in either or. And so my boss at the time basically said we were trying to figure out different things that we could do. And I threw out that we could do containers and serverless zone and actually have our DAs and engineers and PMs from across both orgs. Be it one place for customers to come to. And that's... I'll be honest, when I first was asking a few other people about if it was going to work, everybody kept telling me it wasn't.

Farrah: And I was like, "Well, I think it's a good idea." So my boss approved it and a way I went and I'm actually really glad to see how it worked out. I thought it was really, really awesome to hear how people were saying they felt better about it, not feeling like having to be versus it felt good to have both people have it to be one conversation. It was really fun to watch customers be talking with one of our DAs about ECS or EKS, but then want us going to get into more of like, "Hey, now they want to understand more about microservices and what's that approach going to look like." And then being able to reach over to a coworker and say, "Hey, this is what we're looking for now." I mean, that was pretty awesome. So I'm hoping to do more of those in the future.

Jeremy: And I was perfectly happy to take both a Lambda and a Fargate [Cuzi 00:29:11]. So you can sign me up for that.

Rebecca: He's got to drink in each hand. Left hand Lambda, right hand Fargate. So it's in your name, right? Modern applications. You're not just a PMM for serverless or PMM for containers. And I love that you are leading the community from this higher level umbrella term in terms of the ultimate goal is to build these applications that serve the company better, that abstract all this away, all this heavy undifferentiated, heavy lifting, as you would say at AWS that make it easier for the developer to focus on what matters most to their business.

Rebecca: And so I'm imagining that you've seen some of these walls come down between that binary serverless or containers, but I also imagine that you've seen some really spirited conversations. And I'm wondering if you can highlight a few of those and maybe what some of the foundational philosophical difference are where those spirited conversations come into play or times where you've seen people get really amped and jazzed about something. And then at the end, be like, "Actually I could see how you built it that way." And so I wonder if there are any that kind of stick out to you in terms of topical conversation moments when you've seen these two serverless and containers come to together.

Farrah: I honestly haven't seen any of that since being at AWS. It was more just about how my approach was, but really, I haven't seen any of that at AWS. I actually feel like when their conversations are together, which is I think is probably pretty rare. On the stuff that we're working on we have folks that are doing work with serverless, we have folks that are doing things over on the container side.

Farrah: So I honestly haven't really seen any of that at AWS. But I have seen it. I have seen it, have seen some things. I think it's more of just a misunderstanding of what it actually can enable. I think containers folks at first were a little bit apprehensive because Lambda promised all these things and this is the new way and it was going to be easy and fast and it wasn't easy and there's a lot of things to figure out.

Farrah: And so I think that there was a lot of apprehension on that side. But it has been fun to kind of see the conversation evolve. When I'm doing things with our briefings and things, I try to exclude all of them instead of... So I'm not having to do, here's a briefing for you guys. Here's a briefing for you guys. And to try to bring both folks together. It has been really, really, really interesting to see just the amount of containers folks that want to join the serverless conversations and just how many of them are using it. I actually kind of thought maybe they didn't, but a lot of them are very, very heavy to Lambda users. And I would say less apprehensive than than they used to be.

Jeremy: Yeah. And I think that is something interesting too, just with having these different briefings. It's interesting to think of what services certain people are interested in. So just because I use Lambda quite a bit doesn't mean I don't want to know about Fargate or something to do with RDS or something else that's happening because those are important things that make up the bulk of the applications that I work on.

Jeremy: So having access and just kind of bringing all those people together, I think is super important. And again, if you are using containers you might be orchestrating certain things with step functions, for example. Or using dynamo DV as a storage mechanism and all. There's so much overlap there. I think that makes a lot of sense.

Jeremy: So, the thing that's great about those briefings and I mentioned this earlier was, Heroes or Community Builders that can get involved with some of the different briefings that you do, you get that feedback. The product teams get that feedback.

Jeremy: And oftentimes the product is pretty well, it's almost there. It's just sort of wrapping up the last few things, trying to kind of lock down some stuff and just get some feedback on where it is. Sometimes you get much earlier. I know I've been asked a couple of times to review proposals that were really, really early. And that it's very flattering to be asked those things just to be able to get in early. But I'm curious if you have any examples or maybe just generally, product direction or things like that that have changed, or even thinking internally for some of these product teams that might have changed because they benefit from this early feedback from Heroes and from Community Builders.

Farrah: Oh, definitely. We just had a briefing with Heroes where we were gathering feedback on the roadmap for both of it bridge and step functions. And from those calls, I think there was eight meetings set up with different heroes, just to do some follow up. So definitely, it does affect me how things are built. It can't affect how we talk about it. And I just think that I'm real huge advocate, obviously, to get all of you in front of, as many service teams as possible, just because I understand the depth of knowledge that ever everybody has just being part of that community and also understanding what we know is important to all of you.

Farrah: But I feel like you all are looking at this in a much different way. You're working with your own communities and your broader ecosystem, I guess. Many of you like doing a lot of different consultants. Maybe you're working at companies. So you have a lot of information about how customers are utilizing AWS. And so it is highly valuable to get that feedback. And I have recently did surveys where I'm asking the PMs what did they get out of that, on a scale of one to ten and every time it's been a 10. So, really that I would say, I don't know, have any examples of an exact product. Oh, I do have that. There was the ES built that was just launched from the OSS team, actually [inaudible 00:35:17] is the one that actually sent us information on that. So that's actually something. But it does a lot. I mean, your guys' feedback does definitely help product direction, go to market messaging across a number of our different services.

Rebecca: Something that I love so much or that I still love so much is I always like to say that Heroes and Community Builders, and I mean, customers in general, who are willing to share the gift of feedback, but they're not only our biggest advocates and biggest external teachers. They expand the scale of what just internal employees can do in terms of education and reaching people and connecting and teaching. But there also are harshest critics in a way that is raising the bar to make things better.

Rebecca: And in that way they're, I would say critiquers maybe is a nicer way to say it than critics. And through them they have extremely well formed ideas that they've been thinking about for a really long time, across a really big depth of experience. And then sometimes they come together to put those well thought forms and ideas into a book, or a long series of blog posts or Twitch series or a teaching series or series of presentations.

Rebecca: So I'm wondering if there's anyone whose work that you'd specifically like to highlight that's been leading the community recently or any exciting news from the community since they touched so many folks.

Farrah: They do touch so many folks. Well, I'd say one of the most recently, or the most recent is [Yanque 00:36:55] and Peters Farkey with a J just release their second version of their serverless architectures on AWS. So I highly recommend getting that book. I think it's awesome that they've taken the time to update it. Because we know there's been a lot of changes since the first one.

Farrah: So, really going back to it to ensure that that content is correct, I just think was really awesome. And I appreciate it. And I think that's kind of one of the things that we see in Heroes, is they do think through what they're giving to the community and making sure to go back and update it. So those resources are still valuable because getting set up on something when maybe that updates change could actually kind of put you in a bad place, or you might be either doing workarounds that you didn't need.

Farrah: So that's one I'd like to highlight. Trying to think of other ones. There's so much work that everybody's doing it. I feel like it's consistent. I know Slobodan, and Aleksandar, and Gojko are getting ready to release another book. They've already done one, but I think their new one is like running serverless applications with GraphQL and AppSync. I think that one's coming out in the next few months. So definitely watch for that.

Farrah: I'm still trying to figure out how they have time to write all these books with amount of work that everybody has to do and having your job and then having a life and a family, but then also writing a book. Just seems like a lot.

Rebecca: I had to stop trying to figure that out because honestly it made my head sort of explode as it is. I mean, you got Jeremy over here making animations, you got force making raps on a piano, you got people writing books, you got people... I was just like, "Just take a breath and celebrate their work because it's a wild time out there." It's really, really, truly impressive.

Farrah: Not just that. A camera's already set up perfectly, great mics, just all of it. They have all the different buttons so they can work through every... I mean, it just... Yeah.

Rebecca: Dial [crosstalk 00:39:02].

Farrah: It's like imposter syndrome central.

Jeremy: Well, it is a lot of work. I mean, I can attest. Spend a lot of time crafting content and so forth. And the funniest thing for me, especially when I write blog posts is I write a blog post and it's done, and then I'm like, "All right, but now I still have the whole process of, I got to figure out some sort of image to use for it. I've got to think about the SEO. I've got to schedule it. I've got to write a clever tweet for it."

Jeremy: It goes well beyond just the content creation piece as well. So it is a lot of work, but it is... The other thing though, and I will say this just as somebody who has created a lot of content and it has gotten a lot of positive feedback, probably more than I certainly deserve. But I've gotten so much amazing feedback of people who are like, "The things that you've done or this particular blog post or this video or whatever it was that you did, or this open source project. This helped me so much. This got me over this hump board and inspire me or whatever."

Jeremy: And I know I talk to so many people who do content creation and other things. And that is the most rewarding thing, because it really is about helping other people. And just finding a way to connect, sharing what you know. And again, I get so much benefit from just writing down the things that I learn and sharing it with other people, because it helps me figure what exactly my stance is or how I think about a certain thing. So yeah, it's absolutely amazing. And so again, it's not self-serving but it is pretty rewarding work.

Farrah: Yeah. And don't sell yourself short. You produced a ton of amazing content. And I remember working on some of those reference architectures with you've come going back to those. So Jeremy, yeah, you've done a lot of work that I know is important to a lot of people, including us, like when I was at Stackery, so.

Rebecca: I second Farrah's motion.

Farrah: Appreciate that.

Rebecca: Don't sell yourself short. Celebrates yourself, treat yourself.

Farrah: I want to turn the tables, Jeremy and just ask.

Jeremy: Sure.

Farrah: So what's your favorite part about being involved with the AWS that would be in an AWS Hero?

Rebecca: Ooh, great question.

Jeremy: That is a great question. I didn't know I was going to be on the other side of the mic here. So I tell you the biggest thing I love is meeting people. I mean the connections, like you said, that was the thing I have people now that I know because of AWS communities and the Heroes Program that I would probably consider some of my really good friends now. You know what I mean? I talk to them all the time. We are always exchanging messages whenever we are at those conferences. Those are the people that I go find first to make sure that we can go grab a beer.

Jeremy: Farrah, you're included in that list of people. Certainly Rebecca's included in that list of people and so many others. So it's just great to have that. But then also the thing that was really great about the Heroes thing is we're talking about new stuff, at least in the serverless, or it's not as new, but there's a lot of new stuff coming out.

Jeremy: The thing that has been really nice about having that hero associated with your name is the fact that not only do you get early access to some of the things and you get to talk to, that the product managers are always interested in talking to heroes about the things that we're interested in, what are use cases are, I've said things before, like, "If you do it this way it's going to make my life harder because I already have this open source project that does this or whatever." So having the ability to guide it a little bit is great. But just having that too, I think just gives a little bit of credibility to when you are sharing information. So you say, "Look, I'm talking to PMs. I'm part of this. So I don't work for AWS, but at the same time, I'm so much invested in what it is that they're doing and how that applies to the work that I'm trying to do. And the things that I'm trying to accomplish that having that." That's a little bit of extra credibility. I think that's super important to have.

Jeremy: And that's one of the things I love about this global outreach that Rebecca you were doing, and clearly Farrah, you are doing now to try to get are people that deserve that extra bit of credibility, that they really deserve that because they're doing amazing things and giving those people that just that extra boost so that you can get past that conversation of, "Well, I don't know anything about this person." Well, you know what? AWS thoroughly vetted them, Rebecca reviewed their code and everything is good. And that gives you that extra sense of credibility. And I think that is hugely important, especially when people are trying to progress in their careers and break through all these different ceilings.

Farrah: Definitely. That was good. That was awesome. Actually, I'm glad to hear the connections part. Because I do feel like that is such an important piece. And trying to figure out ways to continue to do that as 2022 goes a long and especially now that we can start getting together in person.

Jeremy: Yes.

Farrah: And I imagine we're going to start running into each other at different events across the globe, so

Jeremy: I look forward to it. That's actually- [crosstalk 00:43:47].

Rebecca: Speaking of connections, how can listeners connect with you? So we'll certainly put all these details in the show notes, but if you want to say it out loud and people can type it while they walk.

Farrah: Okay, it's @FarrahC32 on Twitter. And I'm just Farrah Campbell on LinkedIn. And I think those are the best places probably to find me. [crosstalk 00:44:10]. Or at an AWS event coming near you.

Jeremy: Yes. Yes, I will definitely see you Farrah at Services in the Park for the Reactathon thing. I think I saw that you will be there.

Farrah: I will be.

Jeremy: I will be there doing a round table discussion with Mathias Billman, the CEO of Netlify, and Brian Laro and somebody else I can't remember, but I will be there. So that should be exciting. I will be at ServerlessDays New York in June. I don't know if you have any plans to be there. But anyways, I look forward to bumping into you.

Farrah: In the park. This is going to be very interesting. I'm very excited to see what this conference is going to be like in a park. I've never never done one outside before. So this will be the first time. Yeah.

Jeremy: Exciting stuff. Well, like Rebecca said, we'll get your contact stuff into the show notes, and then some information about the Community Builders Program as well so people can find out more about that. But thank you very much Farrah. This was great. And I can't wait to have you on for the four-timers club.

Farrah: Four timers club, the one and only. See you next month. No, I'm just kidding.

Jeremy: Well we'll see. We'll see what happens. All right. Thanks again.