Magento Q&A: Phillip Jackson
February 5, 2018
Meet your new Master of Ceremonies for Imagine 2018: Phillip Jackson is a Magento Evangelist at Something Digital, and host of the MageTalk and FutureCommerce podcasts. Phillip—and his phenomenal hair—will take to the stage in Las Vegas on April 23.
Congratulations on the emcee job! What’s on your rider for Las Vegas?
Thank you! I’m going to need a very small pony. I like to feel powerful. So, I’ll need Li'l Sebastian, the tiny pony from Parks and Rec. I also want to get a good run in between each performance, so I’ll need a treadmill too. I like to be slightly out of breath, it keeps me on my toes. What else. Hair products—I demand the finest, gluten-free, non-GMO hair products that money can buy.
We’re on it. Are you excited?
Excited isn’t even the word that I would use to describe it. It’s a dream come true. I still remember my very first Imagine, I believe it was Gary Forman presenting and I think the topic was the ‘Art of Commerce.’ I remember seeing the flow of the show, and I just got it. I saw myself being able to become a communicator in the Magento community. Now, to be asked to present the biggest show in commerce, that’s an honor.
Do you remember how you first got involved in eCommerce?
My mother had a string of retail bakeries in Orlando, Florida, when I was a kid and into my teens. I was twelve years old and running the cash register. I don’t know if that’s even legal! But seeing how retail works and the challenges of the supply chain, labor, accounting, and balancing the books…I feel like it gave me a unique take on the challenges that merchants face. I understand their aspirations of wanting to grow and scale their business.
And how did you discover Magento?
My commerce career began during the dot-com boom. I started in 1998-1999 as a programmer and I was building custom websites. I was helping merchants, small and large, dip their toes into eCommerce. This was before we even had anything that resembled a platform. And so I knew all the challenges of building software that enabled commerce on the web. In 2008, I heard rumors of Magento…like rumors of the return of the king in Lord of the Rings. I heard that there was one platform to rule them all. As soon as I got my hands on Magento, I immediately said, ‘this solves everything.’
You’ve worked on so many Magento projects. What is your most memorable?
I'm very proud of the work we've done at Something Digital for Rite Aid. There's so much complexity in that build that the customer will never see, and they get a true in-store experience on the web. It's also a great feeling to turn on the TV and see a national ad campaign featuring something that you worked on. In 2016 we helped them to win the Magento Excellence Award for Growth!
Are you going to bring anything new to Imagine?
Expect to see my Karate Kid crane kick.
You’ve produced literally hundreds of commerce podcasts. What keeps you going?
The thing that’s important to me—and you can see it on the podcast—is authentic storytelling. It’s about conveying my own passion for the Magento platform and its ecosystem. Magento has provided me with an amazing amount of growth in my professional life and my personal life, and even my friendships. We use the word 'community' in commerce very loosely but with Magento it’s true. We’re a community; a family.
What makes Magento different from the rest?
Mark Lavelle said it a few years ago: “Open source wins every time.” I really believe that's true.
What is the last thing you bought online?
I’m obsessed with an app called Wish. It's basically cheap stuff from China that costs about three dollars and it takes six weeks to get to you. I just bought a Millennium Falcon nail trimmer.
Awesome. And have you got a stylist for Imagine? Who will you be wearing?
I’m looking for one! I can’t hope to come close to the personal style of a Mark Lavelle or a Gary Specter. Have you seen Gary Specter lately? Seriously…he's got a great physique. You know he puts in work!