Recent Aaron Winborn Award winner, Leslie Glynn, talks about what keeps her coming back to DrupalCon, her love for illuminating people, and when the heck will Tom Brady retire?

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"...to continue learning new things, and that's where you learn, is from the community."

This Episode's Guest

Leslie Glynn

Leslie Glynn

Leslie helps organize several open source meetups and conferences in the greater Boston area including Design 4 Drupal, Boston.

Transcript

Transcript

Chris:
Today, we're going behind the screens at DrupalCon Seattle, and I'm talking with Leslie Glynn. Leslie, welcome back to DrupalCon. I know this is not your first, you've been to a number so far. Why has it been so important for you to continue to come back to DrupalCon?
Leslie:
Well, I try to come to DrupalCon every year since 2012 when I first was introduced to Drupal, just because the community is great. Just to meet up with people that I see year after year, and just to continue learning new things. And, the best way you learn is from the community.
Chris:
So, what is it that you do with Drupal?
Leslie:
So, I'm technology a Drupal freelancer, but I've been working with Redfin Solutions up in Portland, Maine for a couple of years, doing mostly project management, site building and whatever they need help with. A lot of client support, whatever they need help with, I do.
Chris:
So, a Drupal generalist.
Leslie:
Yeah. Yeah, exactly. I have a development background, but I don't really do a lot of Drupal development, per se. But, I know the technical aspects of project management, stuff like that.
Chris:
What do you hope to gain, aside from meeting people and reconnecting? Is there anything in particular you hope to gain from this DrupalCon?
Leslie:
Sure. Well, I help co-organize Design4Drupal, which is in Cambridge, Massachusetts every year, in June. So, I like coming here just to let people know about the camp, and also to talk to potential sponsors, speakers, trainers, things like that. So, to help grow the Boston community by coming here.
Chris:
It is a great place to do that, because we have ... I mean, people are coming from all over the country, so to talk to different potential speakers, to figure out what other organizers are doing as well, help grow the local camps which is really important. How long have you been working with Design for Drupal?
Leslie:
Design for Drupal, I started out as a community ... I mean, I'm sorry, Volunteer Coordinator for Design for Drupal. I think 2014, maybe, I did that for two or three years. And then finally, some of the organizers stepped away so I just defaulted to being one of the co-organizers, and that's what I do now.
Chris:
That's great.
Leslie:
Yeah.
Chris:
There's a lot of things that happen at DrupalCon. This year, the format has changed a bit. We have two days of summits and trainings, on Monday and Tuesday. Sessions now only on Wednesday and Thursday, but we still have the Contribution Day on Friday. So, I know you've been a part of that in the past, so are you planning on participating again with Contribution Day? And, in what capacity? Why do you like to do that, and what do you hope to get from that?
Leslie:
Sure. So, I think Contribution is great for everybody, for all different levels. Whether you're a project manager, or a tester, or whatever, you don't have to be a developer or themer. There's many opportunities for everybody to contribute. So, locally, I've been helping doing Sprints locally, trying to bring everybody in to do the Contributions. So, at DrupalCon last year, I was the first-time Sprinters Workshop Lead.
Leslie:
This year, I didn't sign up for that because I some family issues that I needed to deal with so I wasn't able to commit, because I didn't know for sure I'd be able to be here. But, I'm still going to be a Sprint mentor for the first time, because I love working with first timers, just to show them the ropes of how to contribute. So they can learn here, and then continue to do it when they get back to their own communities.
Chris:
I like that. So, you're able to teach people not only how to do it themselves, but to help them be able to teach others, to bring that back. So, do you prefer to teach people within the code? Actually setting up their local environments, and how the Code works, or do you prefer to mentor people more on issue queues? What area of contribution do you prefer to work with?
Leslie:
Sure. So, like I said, I haven't been doing a lot of Drupal development so I don't get too technical with them. I want to teach them the process of how to contribute, why it's important, how to go in the issue queue, how to select an issue, and who to get in touch with. What resources, what other mentors are out there so that they feel that they always have support. They can do whatever they want to do, in terms of contributing, and always have somebody to ask questions to.
Chris:
What's something about the Drupal community, because you said you've been around for a few years now. What is one thing you think the Drupal community is doing really, really well, and what's something that you think is an area where the community could stand to improve?
Leslie:
Hmm. So I think the thing that they do really, really well is the community itself. Just reaching out, just helping everybody, just being supportive of new community members, existing community members. Anybody has any questions, there's always somebody that's willing to help you out. So, I think that's the best part of the Drupal community.
Leslie:
What's challenging about the Drupal community, I think, is as the Drupal community grows, it's more difficult to reach everybody. It used to be easy to spot newcomers, so I try to make a habit of going and saying hello to somebody that's new. But now that the community is so large, you don't necessarily have that perspective of who to best reach out to.
Chris:
No, that's a really great point. You and I were sitting in the Community Summit here a little bit ago, and we were talking about why it seems that numbers appear to be dwindling at local meet ups. And it got us to think that we grew up with Drupal and created it to what it is now, but it was much smaller when a lot of us began. So, as we've grown up with it and it's lost its hobbyist feel. It's grown into this big enterprise thing, and it's so large now, that it is hard to recognize everybody the way you used to have ... When it was a smaller group, when it was more niche.
Chris:
That's something that I think we're gonna have to start addressing as a whole, in terms of local communities, and grass roots, who's coming in as the next generation. What made you want to join the Drupal community in the first place? So, what is your origin story? How did you get started? And, what would be the one thing that could happen, that would cause you to leave the community?
Leslie:
I got Drupal dropped in my lap at a previous job, and they gave me small projects and said, "Here you go." I honestly had no idea what Drupal was. I went to a Western Mass Drupal Camp. Great speakers, met some great people there, the whole community feel. And then I went to a talk where Angie Byron was speaking, I don't remember whether it was a DrupalCon or a Camp, and she talked about how she was in a corner of the room when she first started Drupal. Didn't know anybody, and people reached out and helped her.
Leslie:
And I think of where she is today, and if that person hadn't reached out, so I try to reach out. I would never be an Angie Byron, but I want to just try and reach out, and help other people feel welcome in the community. So, somebody is going to do great things by being a member of the community.
Chris:
I like that. I haven't heard that story before. That's really great. And, a complete hypothetical, what would be one thing that could happen in the community that would tell you, I think it's time to leave now?
Leslie:
That's a really hard question. I've never considered leaving, I think the common thing is, once you come for the Drupal community, you always stay. I honestly don't know what would cause me to leave. Maybe a family issue where I wasn't working in Drupal anymore. That could be something. It would have to be something personal, I guess, that would cause me to leave the Drupal community.
Chris:
Yeah, a major upheaval, a major shift.
Leslie:
Yeah. Exactly.
Chris:
Yeah. And I think that goes to say, we are doing a lot right with the community. There's not a lot of people who are ... I mean, it's not gonna be perfect. You're gonna have, with this many people, some people are gonna choose to stay and go. But by and large, everyone is staying here because it's great, and we're really working hard to keep it that way.
Leslie:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Chris:
I'm gonna take this and flip it around from the work a bit. You said you're a freelancer, but you do some work with another employer. But if they were to tell you, "Leslie, take a month off completely paid to do whatever you want to do, to work on whatever you want to work on." What would you do?
Leslie:
I love sports, so I definitely would spend some time going to some sporting events, but I also I love helping people, love teaching people things, so I would find some way to volunteer somewhere. Whether it's a Senior Center or something local, I would probably spend part of that time giving back to people.
Chris:
Yeah. All right. So, favorite sports teams?
Leslie:
Oh, I'm from Boston, so.
Chris:
Oh no.
Leslie:
Yeah. Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, all of them.
Chris:
Nice. Yeah, you guys have a loyal fan base out there, I'll say that.
Leslie:
Yeah, we've won a few championships here and there.
Chris:
All right. Tom Brady, is he retiring next year?
Leslie:
No, he's got a couple more years.
Chris:
Okay. Yeah, that's what I figured. I'm gonna try some of these new creative ones I've thrown onto my cheat sheet. If you could be any piece of furniture, what is the piece of furniture that represents you? What would you be?
Leslie:
Maybe a lamp, that gives people some new information, some new light, new thoughts. As you walk into the room, there's a light for you.
Chris:
Yeah. No, that's a great answer. I really like that. Like you said, you like to teach, you like to help people learn, and volunteer at work. So yeah, shedding light on things to enlighten people.
Leslie:
Right, exactly.
Chris:
Yeah, that's great. I love that. Being that you've gone to so many DrupalCons, that's obviously a lot of travel. Do you have any good travel tips, or any fun travel stories that you'd like to share.
Leslie:
Let me think about that one for a minute. I do enjoy going to the DrupalCons, going to the different cities. I think the Drupal Association does a great job selecting different cities with different styles, feels. Nashville, LA, all the different things, so I think it gives us all an opportunity to stay in parts of the country that we probably would never ... At least, I would never on my own, go to. So, I guess my travel tip is, if you're gonna go to the DrupalCons, spend a day or so enjoying wherever you are, besides being at the Con.
Chris:
Yeah, that's great advice.
Leslie:
Yeah.
Chris:
Have you had a chance to do that yet here in Seattle?
Leslie:
I have not, but I've been to Seattle before, because my daughter ran a marathon here a couple years ago. So, I did explore the Space Needle. So there's a lot of great things to do in Seattle, and hopefully at the end of this week, I'll find a few new things to check out.
Chris:
Great. Is there anything, this could be work related or not, anything that you've accomplished recently that was maybe a big problem that you overcame, or something that you're particularly proud of, that you solved or accomplished?
Leslie:
This is a really sad story, but my best friend from first grade, which is over 50 years, passed away two weeks ago.
Chris:
Oh, I'm sorry.
Leslie:
And I think my biggest accomplishment was being there for her during all that time. She was sick for a while but the last couple months she was really bad. She was at home, so I'd try to spend as much time as I could with her.
Chris:
Wow.
Leslie:
So, that's the best thing I've done recently.
Chris:
That's a pretty hard thing to top. That's pretty amazing. I'd like to wrap it up by sharing some thanks and gratitude with people because, as you know in the community, we all help each other. Is there anybody in particular, or a group of people, that you would like to say thank you to, or share some gratitude with who have given you a little hand along the way?
Leslie:
There are so many people in the Drupal community I don't think I could begin to start naming them, because I feel like I would leave people off. I thank all the mentors that have helped along the way, all the trainers I've had, all the people I've worked with. Just pretty much everybody I've touched in the Drupal community has helped me out, so I'd have to say thanks to all of them.
Chris:
Yeah. It's hard to pick just one or two people.
Leslie:
Yep.
Chris:
Leslie, thank you very much for taking a few minutes to talk to me about the mentorship, and the training, and everything. I really enjoyed it.
Leslie:
Okay. Thank you so much, Chris.

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About host Chris Albrecht

Chris Albrecht
His backend brings all the nerds to the code. Skilled in Drupal development and architecture, you can often find him running through the Colorado wilderness and hosting the Behind the Screens podcast.