Guy Kawasaki is hosting a Web Conference next week on The Art of Evangelism
.By this he is referring to promoting products and services, rather than the traditionaldefinition: the preaching or promulgation of the gospel.
A few years ago, I myself had the official title of "Technical Evangelist" for the IBM System Storageproduct line. I never liked the title, and asked to use something else, but since I was part of ateam of "Technical Evangelists," I had to keep it. A lot of companies were using this as a title,I was told, and everyone knew that it was not a religious reference, but a marketing one.
Sometimes, words do not translate well into other countries or cultures. Four years ago, on theweek of September 11, 2003, I traveled to Kuwait, Qatar and UAE for a business trip to present thelatest on our storage products. On arrival in Kuwait, I had to fill out my "visa application" to enterthe country, and it asked for my "occupation/title" but there were not enough spaces to write "Technical Evangelist" so I just entered "Evangelist".
The two Kuwaitis behind the desk looked it up in their Arabic/English dictionary, discussed it, andweren't sure if they should shoot me, or take me to the back room to video tape my proper be-heading. Our official hostcame over to ask what was the delay, and they showed her the dictionary translation. She asked me,"Why would you put Evangelist as your title?" So, I gave her my business card, and told herthat my full title of Technical Evangelist did not fit in the space provided.
She explained to the two behind the desk that I had misunderstood the question, and misspelled theactual word intended was "Engineer". She showed them the agenda of the IBM Technical Conference I wasspeaking at, and the list of Oil and Construction companies that were attending. They looked upthe new title "Engineer", and agreed the translation was suitable for entry, and that these two words,Evangelist and Engineer, used enough similar letters they could understand how one might misspell one for the other.
Our limo took a small detour to the middle of the desert so that we could burn and bury the ashes of the remainder of my business cards, before arriving to the hotel. All of my powerpoint slides that listed my title were changed to "Technical Engineer". The events themselves went very well,as IT people are the same all over the world, and had no problem setting aside religious or politicaldifferences in an effort to learn more about technology.
When I got back to the United States, I shared my experience with my fellow team-mates, most of whom never leavethe country, and would never have thought this might happen. Management agreed to let us change our titles.That was good for me, as I had to order a new box of business cards anyways.
Last year, I became "Manager of Brand Marketing Strategy" of the IBM System Storage product line.Now on business trips I just write "Manager" on the Occupation/Title line. It fits in every form I have ever had to fill, and translates properly into every language.
technorati tags: Guy Kawasaki, web conference, IBM, technical, evangelist, engineer, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, manager, brand, marketing, strategy