Meet Magento Masters 2018 – Interview with Brent Peterson

Brent Peterson: Magento Makers
Reading Time: 6 minutes

He is a founding moderator of Magento forums. He has been organizing Mage Run for every Magento Imagine except for the first one. He is Chief Magento Evangelist for Wagento. Yes, that’s right, we’ve been honored to get an interview with Brent Peterson.

Question: Hey Brent! Thanks for taking the time to participate in the interview. We really appreciate that! When getting ready, I naturally checked out your LinkedIn profile and found out that you studied Political Science & English History. After about 8 years at college, you were selling computers and computer parts. What led you to eCommerce, and how did you end up developing software? Why Magento?

I had a retail computer store in the USA and Ireland until 1999. In 1999 I realized that selling computers was not a good future so I switched to software (Microsoft ASP, then .net). In 2009, I had a client who said they wanted to use Magento and everything else is history 🙂

Question: You’ve been the lead US Magento forum moderator for 9 years already. Taking that this is an unpaid volunteer position, what motivates you to take an active hand in it? Why did you take such a decision 9 years ago?

I started on the Magento forums by asking Lots of questions and many people answered. But soon I realized that I could also answer some questions. Soon I started answering so many questions that Magento reached out to me to help moderate the forums. I see answering questions as an important part of contributing to the community and through this, you also learn a lot (since many times you have to do some research to get the answer!).

Question: Can you remember how Magento Forums started? Did you feel sorry for the fact of closing previous Magento forums, and the need to start over? What have been the biggest challenge(s) for you as a moderator so far?
The forums started to help the community ask and answer questions about the platform. I don’t think they officially “Closed” the forums. They migrated the forums to a new platform. My challenge now is in finding the time to keep up at a granular level with Magento. Since I have more to do, it is harder to find time to learn (at a deep level).

Magento Masters: BrentPetersonQuestion: I’ve personally heard users saying that Magento Forums are inconvenient. What do you think about such an opinion? Can you share some pieces of advice for the newcomers to make the best use of Magento Forums?
The forums leave and breathe through the community and they are very well-used. I am not sure what would be inconvenient about them? They work!

Question: Magento Stack Exchange has been gaining popularity. Is it more effective to ask questions on Magento Forums than Magento Stack Exchange, or should users just go for both? Do you personally use Magento Stack Exchange, btw?
I would certainly recommend asking your question on the forums. I am active on both and they complement each other very well. I am a top 5% contributor on StackExchange:

Question: You’ve been selected as one of ten Magento Masters: Makers. Did you expect this award coming? How did you find out about it and what were your first feelings?
I did not expect it and it came as a surprise. Magento told me in advance and I, of course, I was very excited.

Question: I’ve heard you visited every Magento Imagine except for the first one. What do you like about the event, and why would (and would you) recommend it to others?
Sorry to correct you, I have attended every Magento Imagine event including the first one (I have not missed any) I even attended Innovate which was Sept 2011 in San Francisco. We have had a Magento RACE at every event except the first one. I like that the event brings the entire Magento community to one place to discuss everything around Magento. I Would recommend Imagine to anyone who wants to learn more about Magento, connect with Magento or Magento staff and in general join in the community. I am very excited about Magento Live Europe. Wagento is a sponsor and I will be there.

Question: What is it like to be Magento Evangelist? You’ve been spreading the word about Magento since 2015 already, or am I mistaken? Is there something to watch/read that you’d recommend to newbies?
Being a Magento Evangelist is a hard, tedious job … ok that part was a joke. I think it is easy to speak about something you are passionate about. So being an evangelist comes naturally. I am just enough technical that I can speak to devs, and I am just enough sales person that I can speak to the business side, and I am just enough entrepreneur that I Can speak to the owner. I am not sure where you got 2015 from. I have been passionate about Magento since the beginning.

For Newbies: Setup and run an instance of Magento. Look at the Magento Forums and Magento Stackexchange for questions. If you want to do development, follow Alan Storm! 🙂

Question: If a merchant is unsure about going for Magento, why would you recommend this platform?
Wow, this is a big question. Unsure about what? The great thing about Magento is that it is able to meet any requirement you have in your question. What are you unsure about? The answer is that Magento can meet the needs of anyone. Do you want low maintenance and low cost? Magento can meet this. Do you want a highly functional, hi-volume, fully integrated enterprise level site? Magento can meet this need. Do you want someone to look after the server and the codebase? Magento can meet this need. Do you want something that is easy to use? Magento is easy to use. If you give me a question, I will answer it.

Question: You often say in media that you still try to be a professional runner. What is it like to organize Mage Run? What is the message of such an activity?
If I had my choice, and I had the ability I would have loved to be a professional runner. Unfortunately, I only have the enthusiasm. My business partner is my wife Susan and after the first Magento Imagine said she wanted more to do than just go to a conference. That first year in Vegas she found a race we could join and we started the Big Dam Run (It was just called Mage Run at the time). That first year we had about 25 people and one bus. In 2016 we organized the event as a Magento Event and named it the Big Dam Run. That year we went from 25 people to 88 people. We have been growing each year since. It is very stressful but each year we get more organized.

Question: Coffee vs Tea. iOS vs Android. Magento Forums vs Magento Stack Exchange. 😉
I like Fresh Brewed Iced. How ever I travel with my own Coffee grinder and complete setup to make fresh brewed pour over coffee. (I should make a MageCoffee video!)
I am 100% IOS.
I like the Magento forums and Stack Exchange.

Question: You seem to be quite an active person. How do you manage to find free time for yourself and family? What is your favorite way to spend leisure time?
First: when I get home from work I rarely turn my computer on. This helps me to disconnect and I know if I start working at night I may work all night! I even try NOT to check my emails. (But sometimes I do). On Saturdays, we (Susan and myself) have a long run scheduled. This is normally 9 out of the 12 months in a year. We run from 16k-35k on Saturdays. We are also in a club and we meet twice a week after work and do workout together. For example, this week we ran 12k which include 4x1200m on the track. Our normal runs during the week are 12-15k. My son is also into fitness so I have started to lift weights with him. My son is a Jr. Programmer at Wagento and attends the University of Minnesota. He hates to run. My daughter is an Event organizer for Wagento and lives in Montana. My selfish goal is to plan events that she attends so I can see her 🙂 She has organized Mage Titans Austin, Mexico City, and the last Big Dam Run! She is also into fitness but hates to run. Susan, my wife, is the President of Wagento and handles everything – HR and Money. She has run 11 Marathons (Boston twice). She also hates running. I think my family is often times trying to find ways where they don’t have to see me 😉 (Small joke). For my leisure time, I like to watch movies, write bash scripts and do some light devops. Of course, I also like to run with my dog Sasha.

We thank Brent for taking the time to participate in the interview, and wish him good luck in the future endeavors! 


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