Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi, I’m Francesco Tisiot Developer Advocate at Aiven based in Verona, Italy. You might know me for my blog posts about Analytics, Apache Kafka, PostgreSQL and Grafana or also because of my continuous fight against pineapple on pizza or ketchup on pasta. Yes, I have strong opinions about Italian food.

I’m pretty newish in DevRel since I started my first Developer Advocate position last January, but before that, I’ve been blogging and speaking at conferences for a while and enjoyed being part of various communities organising events in my country and participating in various speaking tours around the world.

In my “non-working” time I enjoy being a dad, this also means that I don’t have much free time and I spend quite a lot of energy playing all the minor characters of the Frozen movie since the two main ones, Elsa and Anna, are usually already taken.

My personal interests are pretty Italian: I enjoy watching (and sometimes playing) football and discussing with friends over a long meal and a glass of good wine.

What do you feel is the most important part of your job?

I feel Developer Advocates are like bridges. Between technology and people, between various groups of people with different backgrounds and interests, between a product feature and a piece of content that makes it accessible and understood. This shapes my daily work and I love looking for new ways of filling the dots with innovative, creative, and fun/entertaining content to help people get familiar with technology.

Being a bridge also means that we should facilitate the information flow to go in both directions, by being active listeners, understanding different points of view and pains, and being able to convey the messages to the right audience in the correct format.

We also need to remember that It’s all about people! I love the virtual or in-person interactions since they represent the basis of our work and provide a constant source of personal and professional enrichment. Meeting developers, sharing experiences, listening to problems, solutions or ideas opens my eyes to new worlds and lets me understand needs, struggles, or cool innovation and act on them.

Bringing humanity into this technological world is where DevRel shines, and it’s the part of my job that I enjoy the most.

What is something you’re struggling with?

Being fairly new to DevRel means that there is a lot to learn: from audiences passing by documentation techniques and frameworks to abstract drafting. Understanding the little things that are often overlooked but make content impactful and relevant.

However, the thing I struggle with most is not about content, but exactly the opposite: the lack of content a.k.a. the silence!

I’ve been speaking for quite some time and I always tried to fill up my talks with content thinking that adding more words would always be a good thing since I could provide more information.

Then I started my DevRel job, and during talk rehearsals, co-workers and my boss (Hi Lorna!) suggested adding a few pauses. I started discovering the power of pauses, making parts of the talk more digestible and giving listeners the time to elaborate the content and draw their own conclusions.

Even more, silences, if correctly used, can sometimes share a stronger message than words. Now, I’m not aiming to give an entire talk… without talking, but investing time on learning the art of silence and pauses trying to craft what “is not said” during a talk is definitely something I want to improve on.

Tell us about a time you were inspired by someone or something in DevRel.

I ended up in DevRel because I loved the content produced by other people before me and I felt the same passion about helping others succeed. I had the honour to share a bit of the road with people like Mark Rittman, Stewart Bryson and Maria Colgan, who, even if they never had a DevRel title, were fitting a similar space by engaging with the community and producing amazing material.

However, if I need to call out the person who has influenced me most to start in this space, that name is Robin Moffatt: I shared with Robin part of my previous career and he’s always been both a source of inspiration for his spot-on content and a good mentor with suggestions and answers to my questions.

More recently, during DevRelCon 2021, I found Naomi Pentrel’s talk to be super inspiring. For a person who loves live demos, both as speaker and audience, understanding the framework behind crafting a good one is definitely something I took home. I particularly loved the tip of being in close contact with the development team when showcasing a new feature, since it can save hours in debugging!

What’s one change you’d like to see in DevRel?

It’s hard to say since I’m pretty new to this world so I don’t have strong opinions about changes from the inside.

What however I struggle with is the initial DevRel perception from other departments: specifically, when DevRel is not falling under product or engineering, I feel that, because of the impact we have at conferences, we’re sometimes seen only as “the person who goes out and speaks” while there is much more we’re bringing to the company.

Changing this mentality requires building relationships and trust with other departments and demonstrating technical capabilities. Basically showing that you are trustable on the technical side and not just a voice on a stage.

I’m not sure if the people in DevRel will be able to change this initial perception but possibly sharing more of the backend work we are involved in will make people realise that yes, giving talks it’s part of the job, but so is being customer 0, bringing back customer feedback, helping defining product features. We’re just much more than conference aficionados.