Of those 22-ish years, 20 of them have been in a presales engineering capacity - I and many of my colleagues are the folks who attempt to educate the customer on the technical merits of what our companies sell, manage their expectations, and keep the account reps who make money on what they sell somewhat grounded on things they say and do. It's a balancing act I relish, because it requires me to not just stay on top of my technical game, but also be deft when it comes to working with all of the people and emotions involved in the design and selling of a solution.
The blend of people and technology in a sales capacity is an interesting one. As a technologist, you are expected to not just be a deep thinker about the pieces that exist in your solution, but also be somewhat of a fortune teller to understanding and expressing what the solution means and how it may be relevant as the IT world continues to transform and evolve to a Consumption Economics, OPEX, "Cloud" (!!!) type of ecosystem.
This general expectation to predict the future has the biggest impact on how technologists choose to act. It is a natural draw to want to be the smartest person in the room, and while nobody - I mean NOBODY - has a true handle on how the IT field will evolve, we do find ourselves being a part of the progression and often choosing to align to connect with people of similar mindsets in driving progression into our field.
And this brings me to the point of this post. When people gather together in the interest of a greater cause like driving the future of IT usage, it is one thing to encourage a CULTURE dedicated to collective progression in the field, versus a CULT that feigns belief in the same progression, but prioritizes on a private agenda of personality affinity and popularity. The latter is usually guided by a strong single person or an oligarchy of trusted acolytes who feign belief in a cause to take advantage of the unsuspecting, while the former is accomplished through more of a "groupthink" approach, with leadership intertwined with the collective to mutually benefit from progress.
Think about that for a second - a difference of THREE letters separates a utopian way of doing things with a dystopian method of accomplishing goals.
Naturally, most people should naturally align with the CULTURE approach to technology evolution, but unfortunately, they have to navigate a virutal minefield of CULTISH behavior that also is pretty prevalent. Don't believe me? Just look at the CULTISH battles that exist right now between Uber and Lyft...each company believes they have the zero sum path to victory in the shared services space, and emply the occasional dirty trick to make the other look bad, rather than innovate to drive the car ride-as-a-service ecosystem better.
The same could be said for the rest of the technology world? Virtualization, enterprise storage, commoditization of infrastructure - cultish behavior exists in all of these camps to trick others into believing their religious zealotry is the right one. In the end, a culture of collective technical progression needs to trump all of that.
And all because of three letters.