Pictured: That's me (Clint Patterson), receiving the DNN MVP designation at DNN World 2012. During the same event, I was voted DNN Superfan.
“Hi Clint, this is Navin Nagiah, CEO of DNN. How are you doing?” Since 2006, I’ve been an active member of the DNN community. A few weeks prior to getting that call, I attended DNN World in Orlando and won the coveted “DNN Super Fan” award. But I had to wonder, why was the CEO of DNN calling me? Was it something I said at DNN World?
It didn’t take long to find out. “If you could remain on the East Coast, would you be interested in working for DNN?” I didn’t know what to say. Several years ago, I started using DNN when I inherited a university’s admissions department page running DNN 4.x. In the following years, I contributed to the online forums, attended local user group meetings, grew to love DNN and eventually became one of the DNN Super Fan recipients.
Now, I had the CEO of DNN on the other end of my cell phone. I was on I-77 in Charlotte, North Carolina. And even though I was in bumper-to-bumper traffic, I nearly drove off the side of the road. I’d love to join DNN, but first, I’d have to fight through the traffic to talk it over with my wife.
I made it home and had a discussion with my wife about the exciting opportunity. I called Navin back to work out details for starting the interview process. That was one year ago. So now it’s time to reflect back on my first year at DNN.
Reflections on my first year at DNN
I’ve been with DNN Corp for one year now and looking back, it doesn’t even really feel like a year has passed. It seems like it’s gone by so quickly, but as the old saying goes, “time flies when you’re having fun!” That saying is true.
When I first started my role as a Sales Engineer, I didn’t really know what to expect and some things initially surprised me. For example, the ability to incite an intra-office foam arrow war (and for it be completely OK) surprised me.
I didn’t expect that the organization would feel more like a family and that we’d frequently go out for “Happy Hours” after work (when I traveled to the corporate office) and enjoy each other’s company. I didn’t know that I would be more focused and productive as a remote worker than I was when I worked in an office. It didn’t take me long to understand that there was something special going on at DNN and a big part of it is the people that make up the organization.
3 Reasons I Love the Culture at DNN
1) Surrounded by talented people
Pictured: That's me with a Shaun bobblehead. Shaun Walker is CTO and Co-Founder of DNN.
Imagine being surrounded by creative and talented people on a daily basis. I’m talking about the people that are so gifted that being around them makes you ask yourself, “Why am I even here?” From my perspective, that’s how it is on a daily basis.
We have teams with top-notch developers, project managers, architects, and designers on them. Everyone is uniquely talented and I soak in knowledge simply from being around and interacting with my co-workers. The surprising thing is that everyone is glad to assist team members with questions as we are all constantly learning.
2) Constant Learning through Teamwork
Everyone at DNN knows that we are greater together than any one of us is individually, which ties into our open source roots, and it also creates a synergy that is prevalent throughout the organization. That synergy is addictive.
As technology evolves, we find new trends and implement new features into our solutions. The only way to stay on top of this constant change is through teamwork and clear communications. From the top down, everyone in our organization is committed and dedicated. With everyone being committed to achieving the same goals, it’s amazing how teams that are spread across the globe can work together with ease. Our culture of teamwork and pursuit of excellence stems from our leadership and ripples down through the organization.
3) Doing Meaningful Work with Global Reach
In the past year, I’ve been able to travel, attend conferences, and interact with multiple cultures by giving demos to people all around the globe (I even gave a demo in Spanish). From connecting and conversing with DNN Community members from around the world I can tell you that Southern accents are better understood in Europe than in California.
I can also tell you that we are doing meaningful work that truly touches the lives of individuals everywhere. Attending a DNN Conference is the best way to understand and experience this reality. People build their livelihoods around DNN and when you meet those people and see their passion, it really resonates with you and you understand that what we’re doing matters to more people than just the guy in the next office over.
3 Tips for Remote Workers
My role at DNN was and is my first as a remote worker. Working remotely has been a good experience and has given me a unique perspective. Everyone always says, “It must be nice to work in your pajamas” and there are benefits to working from home, but there are also challenges that you probably wouldn’t think about. Here are three tips about working remotely that I’ve learned in the past year.
1) Over-Communicate and Do It Often
Working remotely means that you aren’t in the office and you may not be able to pick up all the details of what’s going on. You are unable to read body language, see people’s reactions, and decipher their intended meanings sometimes.
This can create a communications gap, which can also create uncertainty or confusion. Because of this, I frequently find myself typing out thorough emails asking for clarification, communicating on Skype with multiple team members to get various perspectives, and essentially stalking team members for information! The more you communicate, the better informed you will be.
2) Use Multiple Monitors
Since you’ll be managing both work and communications at the same time, I find that a multi-monitor setup is best. Sometimes I’m out working in a different location when traveling and when I’m not on my multi-monitor setup, I’m less productive.
Also, as a remote worker you’ll probably be a GoToMeeting guru in no time. Having multiple monitors makes it easy to share a screen with anyone you need to and still be able to see other documents, files, or communication tools at the same time.
3) Set Spousal Expectations
I quickly learned that working at home meant that I was considered the main dish washer, house cleaner, trash taker-outer, mail-getter, and laundry man by my wife. Great! If you are working from home, I think it’s important to set some expectations with your spouse so that you don’t end up doing “double duty.”
Never a Dull Minute
Over the past year, I can tell you that we are definitely in a fast-paced environment and that I’m challenged on a daily basis, but in a good way. Whether I’m doing a demo, technical call, webinar, sales team training, or getting trained by our product and engineering teams, there’s never a dull minute. I’ve seen a lot of changes and progress and I’ve just been around for one year, which makes me excited about the future: what will I learn or what will we build next!
Pictured: When I was summoned to headquarters to pick up my "Apple tablet," this is NOT what I was expecting!
The past year has been a blast and I’m glad that I had the opportunity to join DNN. We’re having fun, working, learning, and building meaningful solutions all at the same time. As a result, I’ve grown a lot professionally and now understand that a traffic jam in Charlotte isn’t nearly as bad as a traffic jam in San Francisco.
The phone call from Navin led me onto the latest journey in my life. It led to new connections, new experiences, exciting moments and awesome rewards. It led to amazing projects with amazing colleagues. I’ve traveled from East Coast to West Coast and several locations in between. I’ve done demos in both English and Spanish. It’s ironic that the phone call that started it all asked if I’d be interested in working for DNN. This ride has been so enjoyable that I feel like I haven’t worked a single day.