December 15, 2016
2016 was the inaugural year of our new top contributor program: Magento Masters. Many have asked what it takes to be a Magento Master, so we figured it would be great to spotlight our 2016 Magento Masters and let you get to know them and why they decided to get involved and contribute to the Magento Community.
Let's get to know Phillip Jackson, Ecommerce Evangelist at Something Digital:
My name is Phillip Jackson and I am an Ecommerce Evangelist for Something Digital. We are a Magento Gold Partner (Gold Partners are now known as Magento Enterprise Partners) based in New York City and we do project builds for Magento and eCommerce from soup to nuts. We take everything from concept to launch. I'm really happy to be working with them for over four years now.
How and when did you first get involved with Magento?
I got involved in Magento back in 2008. I was involved building Zend Framework projects and I was hired to be part of a team to help transfer a site off of Volusion, which was a software as a service shopping cart back in those days. We were going to build our own shopping cart, and being part of the Zend Framework community I found that there this was this thing that nobody had really tried but was rumored to be an amazing shopping cart platform coming out called Magento. So I got in in the early days and we built that shopping cart through almost all of 2008 and launched in 2009.
What made you decide to contribute to the Magento Community?
I believe it was in January of 2013. They launched the Magento StackExchange. I had amassed almost five years of knowledge on the Magento platform at that point and had gotten certified back in 2011 at Innovate in San Francisco and I felt like I had something to contribute. I realized that the type of questions that were being answered on StackExchange were the type of questions that I had spent a lot of time trying to investigate and solve for myself and I wanted other people to be able to be more productive than I was in the early days. I began to answer questions there and found that a lot of people really liked my answers, and they were in depth and started blogging about it. It felt really good to give back to a community who had helped build my career and make me the developer that I am today. So StackExchange really was the thing that pulled me into being involved in the community.
How has the Magento Community impacted you?
In more ways than I can even list, Magento has given so much to me, really more than I can ever give back. It's given me advancement in my career and helped me to become a better developer. I've made lifelong friends with Magento from people who've worked for Magento or other developers who are like me who work for other agencies. Really, Magento has helped me build some self-worth and realize I have something to contribute. I may not be in the upper tier of those developers who are breaking new ground, but I know that I have something that's valuable to contribute to those of us who really struggle every day to try to build something and to build something of our career and build something valuable for the businesses that we work for. I think it's really important that we don't focus purely on those who have amazing technical prowess but people who are just trying to solve real world problems and I think Magento solves real-world problems in eCommerce. There's something that can be said about people who have incredible technical skills, but I think it's soft skills and business development skills that are just as important and Magento allows us to highlight those type of people in the community, as well and kind of levels the playing field. Everyone is important in the Magento Community.
What is your favorite Magento event to attend or organize?
A couple years ago, I attended Sunshine PHP in Miami and Cal Evans, they call him the Godfather of PHP, said if you look around and you don't find a user group in your area—tag you're it. You're now the community organizer for your user group in your area. I realized we needed a Magento Meetup in South Florida. Magento is very popular in eCommerce in Florida. I know hundreds of agencies and webshops that are using Magento, and there's not a place for us to get together as developers and marketing professionals and people that are interested in the Magento platform to come and share ideas, to come and be able to be a community. Two years ago, I started the South Florida Magento Developer Meetup and it's grown to be so much more than we ever thought it would be. With the backing of Something Digital, my company, we've been able to grow that to over 100 people and we are seeing people from all walks of our community—people that are marketing professionals, people that are store owners, people that are aspiring merchants and developers are coming together in one forum and we're sharing ideas and we're solving problems. And we're getting jobs. People are finding out about new technologies and new techniques and growing their online business. I would have to say that the local meetup is really where the beginning of the community is for me and helping those people get plugged into the larger community is one of my passions.
What is one piece of advice you would give other developers?
The one piece of advice that I live by is that there is always going to be somebody smarter than you. You can't do anything about people that just have an innate ability to understand complex ideas or to execute faster than you can. It doesn't matter whether you're a developer, a Solution Specialist, or if you're in business development, a merchant. There will always be somebody who is beating you. But you know what you can control? You can work harder than those people. You can control how much effort and how much drive you have. You can control your aspiration. One of the things that I think has made me successful in my career is that I'm not going to let other things slow me down. I'm going to let people's negative criticism slow me down. I'm not going to let my own internal struggles slow me down. I'm not going to let other external factors slow me down. I can work hard and I can put in the effort, and I think if you do that in life, you'll always be successful in what you do.
Ecommerce Evangelist, Something Digital
Phillip has been developing eCommerce solutions since 1998. With over 15 years of experience creating unique online customer experiences, Phillip has both built and managed Magento installations for some of the world’s most recognizable brands. He is the organizer of the Magento SoFla Meetup and hosts the successful podcast, MageTalk, with over 20,000 monthly listeners. Visit his blog