Two weeks back, I attended the 2019 Google Cloud Summit in Singapore. Every year Google held events like this in its major markets where the company announced its new products and roadmaps. It was also an opportunity for people to meet and catch up on what the industries are up to.
I was particularly fond of the Leaders Connect session, where Google shares its insights in the region. They also host a great interactive session, whereas each team acted as the CTO of a global banking institution undergoing digital transformation. We then faced with different scenarios where each decision we made would have a cost and benefit associated.
Google Cloud Summit 2019 in Singapore
But why was I there?
My journey to the cloud
If you asked me what cloud computing is a couple of years back, I would probably give you a blank stare. Now? I could go on and on about how excellent cloud computing is and why you should use it (if you do not already have).
I was an analytics manager for an e-commerce company in Vietnam. Doing analytics on local servers was getting more and more difficult due to the amassed data and physical constraints of local computers. We also lack the ability to process big data with our on-premise systems. On the side, there are many other problems, such as DevOps efforts, permission, and access control, just to name a few.
Naturally, I started looking for solutions to solve our data problems. At that time, we have the option to either use open-source software or use a public cloud provider. We chose to go with the latter since we want to focus on the data, not so much on the infrastructure.
But introducing a new idea to an organization is hard. Often time you’re faced with resistance from numerous stakeholders. In my case, to be specific, I had to convince my bosses, my team, and a couple of security teams. There are countless things that you need to consider, such as security, talent development, and change management. In other words, you are trying to change the way people do their daily works.
You have to go out of your way, you have to convince people, you have to be… an advocate.
I became a cloud advocate in my organization. I started seeking out to people in the industry, learn new stuff, hold meetings to introduce new concepts. I pushed for an initiative to build a data lake on a public cloud. We partnered with Google Cloud to do it, and it opened up many doors for me. Through the project, I have met some incredibly talented people, learn new ways of doing things, as well as learn new concepts and technical skills. Besides my project, I also helped our other teams on their way to the cloud too.
My lessons learned
Looking back on the experience, I realized two things:
Being an advocate open up new opportunities: I will not be here today had I not been a cloud advocate.
Take ownership of what you do: if I thought that going to cloud was not my responsibility, but the infrastructure team’s, I would not have been here either.
So what does it mean to be an advocate of something?
Let’s take a step back and answer this question. A quick Google search gives the following definition of an advocate:
a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy.
To be an advocate of something means that you go out of your way to promote an idea, a cause, or a policy. You can be an advocate of anything from your new favorite video game to social-economic reform.
Image source: 16 Personalities illustration of an advocate, I’m an INFJ-A by the way.
You are most likely an advocate already. Remember the last time you recommend your favorite book or a great app you just discovered to your friends? You were an advocate!
Benefits of being an advocate
These are not guaranteed, but if you are an advocate, here are some potential benefits that you can reap.
Help build your personal brand: If you advocate for something, people recognize you for it. If I talk about and use Apple products all the time, when you have a concern, you are likely to seek out my help. It helps build up your personal brand and credibility on the subject. Also, when you are helpful to people, they tend to reciprocate.
Bring joy to you by helping people: when we hold a door for a stranger or give a dollar to a person in need, we feel good. When you advocate for something to someone, you believe that the thing you’re pushing for will benefit the other party. In short, you are helping them, and you will feel good.
Grow your network: Chances are: there are people out there like you who also advocate for the same thing. You have the opportunity to learn from them, help them out, and grow your network. We are social animals, and networking is never a bad thing to do.
Access to new opportunities: You will have access to new opportunities like a promotion at work or even a new offer. Your boss may realize the benefits of what you are pushing for and give you learning opportunities or send you to conferences.
How to be an advocate?
So how can you be an advocate for something, especially at work? Here are some steps that I think will help:
Choose: The first step is to choose what to push for. Don’t push for something that only benefits you, but no one else. Do push for something that benefits everyone. Choose something that interests you, or you’re good at it.
Believe: The second step is to believe in it. If you don’t believe in something that you are pushing for, people will find out pretty quickly. Believing also helps you persevere when faced with difficulties in your pursuit.
Learn: You are trying to convince people to do something new for yours and their own good. Spend time learning about it, know the craft inside out so that you can be convincing.
Push: This is the most critical step, actually pushing your initiative. Be thoughtful, consistent, and relentless in your pursuit. Show people what’s in it for them and go out of your way to do it.
Persevere: Sometimes, things do not go according to plan. Your timing could be off, you cannot seem to convince people, or you are just unlucky. When faced with challenges, revisit step two. If you still believe in what you’re pushing for, push on.
Let’s be advocates in our organizations
Me and my good friend Joe at Google office in Singapore
In this post, I briefly shared my story to the cloud, and my lesson learned. I learned that being a cloud advocate has opened up countless opportunities for me, and I should take ownership of what I do.
I also discuss what it is to be an advocate and four potential benefits: help you build your personal brand, bring you joy by helping people, grow your network, and give you access to new opportunities.
I urge you to be an advocate in your organization and reap the benefits by choosing, believing, pushing, and persevering!