Simeon Franklin

Blog :: Goodby To Marakana

14 August 2013

There are big changes afoot in my life. You might already have seen the news - the training company that I work for has been acquired by Twitter to help launch a new initiative at Twitter dubbed Twitter University. Marko and Sasa Gargenta, my bosses here at Markana are now leading that initiative and I'll be working with them at Twitter.

More news coverage is available from the usual suspects like TechCrunch

I'm excited about the opportunity to do cool things. And I'll probably share more about that in this space. Before I get too excited about joining the Flock, however, I need to say goodbye.

Great things

One of my friends who already works at Twitter has a quote from Mother Teresa in his email sig.

In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.

Lately when I see that quote I smile - because it perfectly captures my experience working for Marakana.

Two years ago if Marko had asked me to teach thousands of engineers at major technology companies like Twitter, Facebook, Cisco, Intel and Motorola I would have been intimidated. If he had told me that I needed to write my own courses and do some learning along the way to master and teach some new technologies I would have been frightened. And if he had told me that Marakana expected an incredible level of customer satisfaction - that our clients have to not only enjoy the classes and the interaction with their instructor but walk away with a real measurable increase in skills... I don't know if I would have had the guts to take on this position if I knew what I was getting myself into!

But two years later we've done great things! Marakana has been a wonderful place for me to work because they demand only that I do my best to do the right thing for the students whose lives we intersect, one week at a time.

It isn't just the sense of accomplishment that sticks with me. I could run through the usual measures of success: profitability, activity, & growth. Millions of views on our Youtube channel. Hundreds of open-source technology meetups organized and sponsored. Thousands of happy engineers, leaving happy comments at the end of a training class...

What sticks with me is Marakana's motto: "Helping people get better at what they do" and the attitude and actions behind it.

I was amazed, working for Marakana, at the encouragement to give away our content. We recorded one of the first Python bootcamps I taught and today it has 70,000 views on Youtube. Writing for my blog, attending meetups, and going to conferences went from being a luxury activity I occasionally rewarded myself with to being just part of my job description.

I enjoyed the bickering collegiality of my fellow experts and in our too infrequent drink-n-chat meetings learned a ton about how to communicate, how best to structure content and activities, how to develop supporting material - all with an eye to what would be most effective in helping our students.

I appreciated the office staff who fearlessly and with grace dealt with the chaos of travel schedules, editing and videoing content, managing relations with students and clients, supporting the open source community in the Bay Area.

I have seen so much effort expended! I'm not the only one with many sleepless nights editing and re-editing course material, flying across the country reviewing labs on the plane, skipping lunch to study student work. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who gets nervous on the first day of a new class, every time. And I know I'm not the only one watching other instructors and consuming education material voraciously - all to make sure that the primary goal really was being achieved - that we were helping people get better at what they do.

My association with Marakana has been the one I am proudest of in my technical career. And while I'm looking forwards with anticipation to the new opportunity in front of me you'll pardon me, I'm sure, if right now I'm in the mood to raise a glass in memory of a company that made a positive impact on my life and many others.


It also gives me great pleasure to know that the genius of Marakana is going on. The employees who are not going to Twitter have formed a new company to continue offering training services and are in the process of rolling out a new website. NewCircle is going to be great - I'm really looking forwards to watching them continue to provide high quality education in open source technologies like Python. Having had the opportunity to help train my own replacements for New Circle I'm confident that a couple of years down the road they'll also look back and realize great things have been accomplished.

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