Friday, February 10, 2017

From developer to seller: An identity crisis

After I started working at Microsoft 10 months ago, the amount of blogging I did naturally decreased as I wanted to focus all of my attention on getting settled into my new job. Everyone says that it takes a year to get fully settled at Microsoft, and although I didn't believe them when I joined, I can confirm that this is true. After slowing down on the blogging and social media activities for a period of time, I came to a complete stop. I blamed it on the same reason as before: I'm focusing on my new job.

Today I realized that that's not true. I didn't stop because I wanted to focus on other activities, I stopped because I lost my motivation. And I lost my motivation because I've had a bit of an identity crisis.

If you had asked me 5 years ago if I would ever consider doing something else than work as a developer, I would have laughed and answered: "NEVER!" Software development is what I love, nothing excites me and motivates me more than seeing innovation in the form of technology.

After a couple of years though, I started to feel the need of being part of something bigger, something more powerful, something that can make a great impact on the lives of both developers and those who don't write code. Someone whose mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Microsoft.

Before I go on, I will have to explain a bit more of what I do at Microsoft. You can find the long version here (, but I'll give you a quick summary. I'm in charge of our developer tool offerings in Norway: Visual Studio, Team Foundation Server and Visual Studio Team Services. I sell these tools and I help developers understand how they can use these tools to improve their software development process.

I'm no longer a professional developer myself. Sure, I still write code, but that code is for demos or proof of concepts. I no longer write production code on a daily basis. And here's the catch: The transition from being a developer to a seller has been more challenging than I thought, and I haven't been able to accept my new identity as a non-developer until today. It took me 10 months and 10 days to accept that I am, in fact, a seller. I'm not a developer. I'm a seller.

As I haven't been able to accept my new identity, I haven't been able to blog. I'm not sure I'll be able to explain why, but it has to do with credibility. If you've read my technical blog posts from earlier you see that my only intention was to share great tools, experiences and practices with other developers. I never tried to sell, I was never compensated for writing about those tools. I was a huge advocate for both EPiServer and Octopus Deploy (and I still am), but I only blogged about them because I wanted to share the awesome experiences I had, hoping that other developers would somehow find it useful.

Blogging as a seller feels different. Everyone knows that I am compensated based on the adoption of Visual Studio, and during my little identity crisis I believed that this meant I no longer had my credibility when writing about these tools. I was scared that you as a reader would think: "Does she really think these things are cool or is she just trying to make us buy it?"

I realize now that this is something I don't need to worry about, simply because I would never blog or speak about something I don't believe in myself. It sounds like a simple conclusion to a simple process, but believe me: There's nothing simple about it. This is the result of a tranformation that has taken me over 10 months to accept.

Today, I am back. My motivation to blog and share is back. And I can finally say the words without feeling nauseous: I'm a seller.

</ identity-crisis>

Thanks to those of you at S4 who made me come to this realization, you probably don't even know that you helped me.

Have you been through a similar transition yourself? I'd love to hear about it!

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