An unexpected conversation

At DrupalCon 2019 I was honored to present on mental illness in tech and how it has affected me. I've been giving this and similar talks for about 2 years now, but this one was special to me for many reasons.

During the opening reception at the expo hall I was walking around collecting swag, as one does at these kinds of events. I noticed that a well-dressed gentleman was giving my nametag a look as I passed the Lullabot booth. He came and introduced himself as Matt Westgate, CEO of Lullabot. Immediately my recruiter sense started tingling, which wasn't a bad thing because, you know, LULLABOT!

Two things went through my mind at that immediate moment.

  1. How's my breath?
  2. What the hell is the CEO of one of the most recognizable agencies in the Drupal world doing talking to me?

However, the conversation that happened after the initial introduction was so much more meaningful than any potential recruitment scenario.

I'm not worthy

After introducing himself, Matt told me that he saw my talk at DrupalCorn in Iowa in 2018. He then continued to tell me how after seeing my talk, he took what he learned and ran with it back at Lullabot. He credited me as being a catalyst that changed the culture and the way they look at mental health at Lullabot.

The rest of the conversation is a bit of a blur because at that moment my body went on autopilot while my brain went into overdrive. "What the hell? No way that this is a thing. I just talk. I'm just someone who tells a story. People tell stories all the time. Is this real life? What's in this water?"

When I started out giving my talk it was because someone else (Ed Finkler) gave their talk and several talks before it. I was inspired, and I wanted to do something to potentially help someone somewhere down the line, but I never thought I would really have any impression on anyone past "Well, I've seen the other sessions in this slot. Might as well check out JD's talk."

I've had a few people thank me, and frankly, I don't deserve it. OSMI deserves the credit. Ed deserves the credit. Joe, Becky, Arthur, and everyone else on the OSMI slack who have inspired me deserve the credit. I just talk.

A great start

I couldn't imagine a better start to DrupalCon 2019 than that conversation. I had to immediately sit down, breathe, pinch myself, get some strange looks from people watching me pinch myself, and finally accept that this was real life.

Lullabot has changed their culture to be more inclusive, more welcoming, and more people-first. Matt did a great write up about their efforts on the Lullablog (not sure if that's what they call it, but it's what I'm calling it for now) that you can find at Supporting Mental Health at Lullabot

They gave me an undeserved shoutout, but I appreciate it. I'm just a guy who talks. They're the ones really making a difference.