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Swag… It’s the Little Things

I’m excited to announce that this post marks the end of week 3 at MuleSoft, one of the most innovative companies I’ve had the chance to work for. It also served as a humorous reminder of how I found out about MuleSoft- and what caused the shift after just a short stint at Constant Contact as their developer advocate.

It’s funny, because as a Developer Advocate I put a lot of focus on how Constant Contact was presented at conferences. Over the years Constant Contact had garnered a reputation for being outdated – that old and out of touch (with the developer community) company that was great for small businesses – and terrible for developers. That perception, when you think about it is quite ironic, as I’ve found that developers and small businesses actually have a lot in common. But for that reason I wanted to make sure that everything we did showed that Constant Contact wasn’t old, nor out of touch. Instead we were still the thought leader in the space, pushing forward with even more ideas, and also a company constantly focused on innovation (not only does Constant Contact have an innovation department, but they recently launched their Innovation Loft, i.e. InnoLoft program).

It’s about the Details

For me it came down to the details, it was all about the little things. The Kaygo stickers we handed out (I miss that dinosaur… err Dragon), the Wobblers (colorful stress ball thingies with faces that wobble), high quality foldable water bottles that were great for travel and hiking, and high quality pens with a useful stylus. Ok, so I might be bias about these things, but what was important to me was that everything we did showed that we were fun, energetic, modern, and that we wanted to be part of the community. That we wanted to engage developers, and were willing to go that extra step to do so.

But how much does swag really matter? While I wish I could say it was all easy sailing, I also took a lot of flack for my swag choices, and for my attention to the details and refusal to pick the “easy” items such as pins, mobile stands, sunglasses, or cheap earbuds.

Today serves as a tremendous reminder at just how important the little things are. Talking to a coworker who I found out lives next to me I quickly realized that she was the reason I knew about MuleSoft, and ultimately the reason why I now work here. As simple as it sounds, I was riding the BART to work one day when I saw someone wearing a MuleSoft sweatshirt. I remember looking at the logo and while in total geek mode thinking “who is MuleSoft.” That’s right, I had never heard of the company before, and had no idea what they did or who they were. But that simple sweatshirt, that simple logo made me wonder, and then google, and then research. And the more I found out about the company, the more and more I loved them. Not because of the sweatshirt of course- but because of who they were. That sweatshirt, however, is what introduced me to the company.

Your Swag IS Your Message

Even after leaving Constant Contact I still get emails about the swag that I handed out there – people telling me that they took their water bottle hiking, or that the wobblers are on their desk- I even ran into Kaygo the other day at a conference. What’s just as impressive is how the company is associated with the swag – how people saw the wobblers as fun – and saw Constant Contact in the same light. How they saw the playful, energetic, and yearning expression of Kaygo – and saw Constant Contact as a company that would work hard, but play hard. A company that was among the best, but also didn’t take itself too seriously. Because in the end it’s really not about the swag… it’s about the message the swag sends. It’s the thought that counts – the investment into the community, and the desire to do something spectacular.

Swag may seem like a little thing, but when it’s the first thing developers see – it’s everything.

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